Kenya will withdraw its troops from Somalia after more than six years of fight against Al-Shabaab, the leader of the East African nation said.
Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnappings of civilians by the militants within its territory.
A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join AMISOM, a decision that meant the treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.
In an interview with VOA, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government carries out plans to pull its forces out of Somalia.
“This is some of the issues we have discussed with our U.S. counterpart, we are all hopeful that we shall be able to pull out of Somalia in the shortest possible time that we will be able to work together with the federal government of Somalia,” Mr. Uhuru said.
Mr. Uhuru who is serving his final term of the presidency was the deputy prime minister when Kenya deployed its troops in Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab militants who allegedly executed attacks inside Kenya.
Since then Al-Shabaab conducts frequent assaults in Kenya, mostly in the region bordering Somalia, to put pressure on the Kenyan government to withdraw its peace-keeping troops from Somalia.
The president said his country would like to use expenses spent on its troops in Somalia to be diverted to productive areas.
“So that we can pull back to our borders and reduce that cost that we are currently bearing and be able to focus on that other more productive areas,” he explained.
Mr. Uhuru reiterated that they will work closely with the Somali government and their counterpart troop-contributing countries on the security of Somalia.
” So we would be hopeful that we are constantly encouraging and working our Somali counterpart, African Union, and other countries under the umbrella of AMISOM,” the president stated.
Military insiders say it costs about Sh7,000 ($70) a day to keep a Kenyan soldier in Somalia.
This covers food, transport, medical care, communication and water expenses, which translates to Sh 210,000 ($2100) a month and Sh2.52 million a year.