NAIROBI: Outgoing Ethiopia envoy to Kenya Shamsudin Ahmed has said that good cooperation between the people and security forces is the secret that his country has used to successfully ward off attacks from the Al Shabaab militant group.
This comes as Kenya government officials are seeking to find out the magic bullet that has enabled Ethiopia to keep off cross-border attacks unlike Kenyan which has been attacked many times since sending soldiers to Somalia in October 2011
The envoy said that securing the country cannot be done by the military or security forces alone, but primarily depends on having a good relation and support with the people in terms of sharing information about threats.
“We rely on our people to share crucial information with our security forces to enable us secure the country. We have been fighting Al Shabaab for a long time and we started putting in place measures to protect our country a long time ago. We organised our people to work together with the security and intelligence arms of the government without any friction,” he said.
Both Ethiopia and Kenya have thousands of soldiers inside Somalia, but Al Shabaab has been focussing its attacks inside Kenya to pressure the government to pull back the troops.
No similar attacks have been seen in Ethiopia although it also shares a long border with the troubled country, including those areas where Al Shabaab is active.
He added: “The Al Shabaab cannot cross our borders to commit attacks without being noticed because the military, intelligence and the people are working very closely together. People are very vigilant in Ethiopia and we urge Kenyans to adopt similar strategies.”
The ambassador expressed optimism that Kenya’s defences will steadily increases against Al Shabaab attacks on soft targets including shopping malls and public transport.
The envoy was speaking Monday during a luncheon to mark the day Ethiopia promulgated in Federal Constitution that has allowed various ethnic communities in the country to have self-autonomous regional governments.
The Ambassador, who is leaving Kenya after four years of service, called on all Kenyans and Ethiopians to unite across religious and ethnic lines to protect themselves from the Al Shabaab threat that the whole Horn of Africa region faces.
“Al Shabaab seeks to win by dividing people religious and other lines by killing innocent civilians including women and children. But eventually, they will be defeated,” he said.