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Rob Macaire

High Commissioner to Kenya, Nairobi
Posted 16 July 2010 by Rob Macaire | Comments
A couple of readers of this blog have commented on security and terrorism in light of the terrible bombings in Kampala on Sunday.  Here's my response.  If indeed the attacks turn out to be the work of Somali extremists, which seems highly likely and which they have taken responsibility for publicly, the answer does not lie in turning our backs on the lawlessness and humanitarian suffering in that country.  We and other international players are putting a lot of effort and money into humanitarian and development assistance in Somalia, but much more than that into engaging the transitional government and regional and other leaders, to encourage better governance, more security, and an inclusive political settlement from this transitional period.    African Union troops  are playing a courageous role in securing the port and airport and allowing the government to survive in Mogadishu, but we all want to see more results and a better outcome for regional stability and for the people of Somalia.  Al Shabaab and other extremists are working against those aims.   So it is clear where we stand, which is shoulder to shoulder with those Somalis who want a more peaceful future, and with regional countries who are helping support that aim.  
I am puzzled by Mucemi's  linkage of this attack with Afghanistan, and his reference to the so-called 'Global War on Terror', a phrase that I haven't heard for some time, at least since the last US Administration.   The conflict in Somalia, and indeed terrorist attacks in East Africa, started long before 9/11 or Western intervention in Afghanistan.  We certainly want to encourage peaceful progress in Somalia away from state failure.   The current transitional government has made it clear that they are willing to work with whoever in the country is prepared to join a non-violent process.  I hope that can be realised, and I don't believe that cowardly terrorist attacks are likely to change that determination by those countries who have Somalia's interests at heart.
Here's another thought: I know from our work with the Kenyan authorities that they are putting a lot of effort into keeping Kenya safe from such attacks.  But as things stand, they are hampered by having no law that can prosecute or even detain people for planning terrorist attacks.  Terrorism legislation needs to be implemented carefully and with full safeguards to protect civil liberties and protect minorities.  But in this day and age, I wonder if Kenya is looking out of step with other countries in not having such legislation. 

Rob Macaire
16 July 2010

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