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LONDON, may 12 (NNN-KBC) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says a troop surge for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the return of the people of Somalia to their homeland to help in reconstruction are key planks in stabilising the Horn of African country and putting it on a firm trajectory for growth.

Addressing the 2017 London Conference on Somalia here Thursday, he added although AMISOM had made significant progress in degrading terrorist activities and stabilising Somalia, there was still much to do before a planned AMISOM drawdown and transition to Somali security forces takes place next year.

I therefore urge this Conference to endorse the call by the troop-contributing countries and the African Union (AU) for urgent measures to support and strengthen AMISOM, including the upsurge of AMISOM by an additional 4,000 troops to liberate areas still under the control of the terrorists, the president said.

The international community should also facilitate the deployment of critical enablers and force multipliers, as well as the provision of predictable and sustainable funding, including from the United Nations-assessed contributions."

The conference was co-chaired by British Prime Minister Theresa May, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the current Chairman of the Horn of Africa bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also attended the conference.

President Kenyatta called on the United Nations to provide support to the Somalia security forces in order to accelerate the AMISOM exit. He sought support for the implementation of the Somalia National Development Plan to enable the people of Somalia, including refugees, to go back home and participate in the reconstruction of their country.

President Kenyatta also echoed his sentiments to Kenyan media on Tuesday, ahead of the London visit, when he said that AMISOM could not be expected to exit Somalia before guaranteeing the region's security. Kenya hosts some 800,000 refugees from Somalia, most of them sheltered at the world's largest single refugee complex at Dadaab in eastern Kenya.

For us, return of the people of Somalia, including repatriation of refugees, has to be embraced as part of measures of bringing meaningful peace and security, as well as securing the development of Somalia, President Kenyatta said.

Somalia is taking important steps towards democratisation and peace, but an important fact to be embraced is that this has to take the involvement of all the people of Somalia to deliver stability, reconstruction and progress.

President Kenyatta met Prime Minister May earlier on Thursday to discuss bilateral matters. The London trip was part of a frenetic month of May in which the President is holding talks with a host of global leaders on deepening investment and expanding trade, which is key to his agenda of seeking quality jobs for Kenyans.

On Tuesday, President Kenyatta asked the United Nations to do more to find resources to support AMISOM, which has faced financial challenges, especially after the European Union decided to cut its budget to the African mission by as much as 20 per cent.

Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi and Djibouti have sent troops to Somalia as part of regional efforts to secure and guarantee peace there. Kenya's other reason for deployment is to combat terrorism in the Somalia arena in which it is tormented and promoted.

The President urged organizers of the London conference to give the African Union and regional development agency IGAD a prominent role in tackling the challenges in Somalia, because they have dealt with the matter over a couple of years and have the continent's mandate in seeking peace in Somalia.

The Kenyan leader also called for more financial support to end the civil war that has killed millions of people and ensure the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Kenya's northern neighbour, South Sudan.

Priority should be given to the creation of corridors to deliver humanitarian assistance, enabling the safe passage of humanitarian workers, and putting in place measures to guarantee the safety and security of civilians, President Kenyatta said.

President Kenyatta was due to separately meet and hold talks with UN Secretary-General Guterres; Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni � all key players in efforts to bring a durable solution to the Somalia crisis. -- NNN-KBC

Source: NAM News Network