It’s a great pleasure to welcome President Mohammed today, on his first official visit to Kenya after his election as President. Indeed, I was honoured to represent Kenya at his inauguration. The event itself was a celebration of Somalia’s democracy, which I was pleased to attend; it is a pleasure to return the honour by hosting President Mohammed in Nairobi. Karibu sana, my Brother.
Now, President Mohammed is no stranger. He previously served his country as a diplomat, and then as Prime Minister.
Kenya, like Somalia, is grateful for the diligence and skill with which he handled his heavy responsibilities as Prime Minister. We welcome him to Kenya not only as a new President, but an old friend — and one proof of this is the celebration that broke out in Kenya on the announcement of the election’s result.
His visit here gives our joint agenda a fresh start. That agenda is, I think, very clear.
On a bilateral level, we agreed to revitalize our engagement in all areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment as well as the management of our borders.
This region, and this continent, are rising: together, we are coming closer and closer to the freedom, the security and the prosperity that our people deserve. But we will achieve that freedom, that prosperity, and that security, only if we each lift the other.
None of us can do it on our own: we will either rise together, or fall separately. If Somalia prospers, so does Kenya. If Somalia is peaceful, so is Kenya. It is up to us, then, to do all we can to help each other secure these goods for our people. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how we will lift each other; and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, has been the focus of our talks.
I don’t have to tell you that a country many of whose people have been displaced is a country still at risk of unrest, or worse.
Again, we all know the strength, the enterprise, and the optimism of Somalia’s refugees. As neighbors, ours is to stand with them, and with their country. That is why I have discussed the matter closely with President Mohammed, convinced that we can find a way to help Somalia’s refugees return to rebuild their nation. The conversation will continue at IGAD’s Special Summit on Durable Solutions for Somalia Refugees, which it is our privilege to host this Saturday.
It’s an opportunity for all of us — Somalia, Kenya, and every other party in the region — to put our heads together, and to see how we can support the refugees who have endured so much. I look forward to a productive conference, as does President Mohammed.
A second problem of peace is the recent difficulty with terrorism. Al-Shabaab remains ready to kill innocents in both Kenya and Somalia. President Mohammed and I agree that the fight against these evil criminals must continue until they are no longer a threat.
One immediate way in which we can do that is to scale up the efforts to strengthen the forces already in Somalia, as well as Somalia’s own national security apparatus, so that we are all ready for the day when foreign support leaves the country. In the first task, we have an excellent ally in the Secretary-General of the UN, who has made clear — publicly — his support for an increase in funding for AMISOM, so that we can hasten the stabilisation effort. The plan is for a gradual reduction in troops next year; we cannot afford any further delay.
I am sure that working together with President Mohammed, and with our foreign friends and partners, we will find a solution that meets the needs of Somalia and its friends.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are some of the matters President Mohammed and I have considered. I want to close my remarks by asking you all to give him a warm welcome — and I now invite him to make a few remarks.
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Nairobi, 20th January 2021, (PSCU)—