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Uganda cautious as Kenya enters Somalia for Al Shabaab

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Somali women carry weapons at a demonstration organised by the  Al Shabaab on July 5, 2010.Uganda People’s Defence Forces spokesman Felix Kulayigye said the decision by Kenya to make a military incursion into Somalia was proof that “this is a regional issue, an African issue.” Picture: File

Somali women carry weapons at a demonstration organised by the Al Shabaab on July 5, 2010.Uganda People’s Defence Forces spokesman Felix Kulayigye said the decision by Kenya to make a military incursion into Somalia was proof that “this is a regional issue, an African issue.” Picture: File 

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA, Special Correspondent

Posted  Sunday, October 23  2011 at  11:57
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James Mugume, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala, said it was too early to comment on the implications of Kenya’s Somalia adventure for regional security.

“I have asked our people in Nairobi to give me some analysis,” Mr Mugume said.

Meanwhile, Islamist militants in Somalia have vowed to take revenge on Kenya, accusing it of occupying a sovereign country.

“Kenya has joined the list of occupiers of another country’s land, and history will tell what happens to their aggression,” Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a noted Islamist who is listed by the US as a terrorist, was quoted as saying.

“We shall fight Kenya on all fronts possible. We are not afraid to fight to the death because Allah will reward us if we die.”

In July 2010, during the soccer World Cup final, Al Shabaab militants exploded bombs at two entertainment spots in Kampala, killing at least 76 people.

The worst act of terror on Ugandan soil, the attack was executed as revenge for Uganda’s peacekeeping role in Mogadishu.

Angelo Izama, an analyst with Fanaka kwa Wote, a think tank on regional politics and security, said it would be difficult to harmonise Kenya’s national interests in Somalia with those of Amisom.

“The question is whether politically they will be working on the same page,” Izama said. “The ideal would have been for Kenya to have joined Amisom.”

But even if Kenya had wanted to join Amisom, the country would have been a problematic candidate simply because, like Ethiopia, it shares a frontier with Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation has lacked a stable government since 1991, when Siad Barre was ousted.

The dictator’s exit presaged a violent power struggle that still remains unresolved.

The emergence of Al Shabaab, which has been linked to Al Qaeda, added a uniquely violent dimension to a conflict that continues to degrade the value of life in Somalia.

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