Kenya Defences Forces (KDF) will have to wait a longer before withdrawing its forces from Somalia.
The delayed withdrawal of Kenyan troops has been occasioned by the African Union’s decision to keep their forces in Somalia due to the growing Al Shabaab’s resurgence.
African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) has resolved to slow down the withdrawal plans for a period of six months.
The delayed withdrawal will allow the forces to adequately support Somali National Army tackle the extremist group.
The decision to extend their stay followed a council meeting which was held on Wednesday, November 23.
“AU confirms support for the FGS (Federal Government of Somalia) request to extend the Atmis Phase 1 reconfiguration for the drawdown of 2,000 Atmis troops from 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023, as a slight revision of the operational timeline, while reconfirming the commitment to maintain the exit date of 31 December 2024 by Atmis,” the council stated.
AU was set to gradually withdraw over 2,000 troops starting December to allow other contributing forces, including KDF and soldiers from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi, to exit by December 2023.
However, AU insisted that the new withdrawal plan will be published by February 2023.
In September, President William Ruto insisted that KDF soldiers would stay in Somalia till their mission was finished.
Defending the move, Ruto stated that their presence in Somalia was key to protecting Kenya’s stability.
“Those troops will come back home as soon as they are done with the assignment they have in Somalia,” Ruto stated.
“It has been 15 years, and I appreciate that, we have been there with many partners. I think there is light on the horizon with the election of President Hassan Mohamud who I have met twice,” he added.
KDF moved to Somalia in November 2011 under Lindi Nchi’s (Protect the country) operation. The decision to send Kenya forces to the neighbouring country was to tackle the Al Shabaab insurgence.