Ethiopia and Kenya share a large porous border, straddling length of 841 kilometers.
On one hand, this is a privilege for neighboring countries to cooperate in many fields but on the other hand, it is also challenging as the border area is still underdeveloped. Lack of physical infrastructure, low school enrollment rates, and mobility of people has been making the border area prone to conflict and crime. Cognizant of this, the two countries are involved in developing, leading, and implementing the cross-border program.
Activities such as improving the capacity of local governments for preventing conflict and promoting sustainable peace; strengthening community resilience to prevent conflict and developing efficiency and effectiveness on conflict prevention and peace building were objectives of the cooperation.
This effort helped the large border area to be governable and peaceful for times. Both countries have their militaries in Somalia to fight al-Shabaab militants, who most of the time slips into the countries for attacks.
But the two countries needed to further strengthen this cooperation on security as terrorist groups such as AlShabaab, OLF shene, and others continued to be a threat to the border area and the country as a whole.
The two countries seem to have given deserving focus to the weight of the matter as they are exchanging visits, discussing, and establishing cooperation at different levels. For a step forward in this cooperation, Kenyan Inspector General of National Police Service Hilary Mutyambai has been here in Addis Ababa this week.
The Kenyan Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai met his Ethiopian Counterpart Federal Police Commissioner General Demelash Gebremichael and discussed issues of mutual concern.
They said the two agreed to launch a joint operation against al-Shabaab and Shene groups to stop hostile activities by the two organizations. Briefing journalists, the two have reiterated strong security cooperation to fight crossborder terrorism thereby ensuring peace and stability in the area.
Commissioner General Demelash heightens the timeliness of the cooperation as terrorist groups such as OLF shene and Al-Shabaab are threatening to exploit the border area for their evil causes. “There is a situation that OLF shene is getting training and penetrating through the Kenyan border.
So, our cooperation is vital to foil OLF shene and Al Shabaab terrorist attacks. We will control these criminal groups through the joint operation.
We have agreed to work together and make the border area peaceful and enabling for developmental activities. We will also have an agreement to increase information exchange between policies of the two countries. Exploiting the information, we can carry out effective operations.”
Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai said the cooperation is in respect to the longstanding relationship of the two countries.
Mutyambai stressed the MoU will enable to develop the capacity of policies of the countries and thereby ensure cross-border peace and security. “Ethiopian Federal Police and National Police Service Kenya have prepared a memorandum of agreement. The first is on information exchange and carrying out a joint operation that is based on mutual support. The second is on training.
The two policies will build capacities and sharing of experience and skills. We have also reached an agreement to work together in different areas.” For the effectiveness of the joint operation, the policies of the two countries are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Kenya in less than a month’s time.
Commissioner-General expressed commitment to work the effectiveness of the operation and the two countries’ trade exchange and developmental integration to happen peacefully and legally. “When individuals commit crime go to other countries, this connection helps us to work together and extradite criminals. We have made a deal on this and we believe the effectiveness of this cooperation has a positive contribution to countries’ peace, stability, and benefit of people living adjacent border.
The import and export trade of the two countries will also be better secured.’’ Kenyan daily newspaper The Star reported the move by Mutyambai to visit his counterpart in Ethiopia was seen as one of the many ways to contain the spread of the gangs in the region. The paper illustrated the relevance of the agreement by going through security threats in the region.
It mentioned that Shene has been fighting the government from the Oromia region of western Ethiopia even though it entered the country to pursue peaceful political struggle in mid-2018.
The paper points out that Ethiopia has been suffering from the terrorist attack of OLF shene insurrection as it is killing civilians and is behind destruction in the Oromia region and other parts of the country.
On the other hand, Kenya has been suffered attacks of Al Shabaab and wants to keep itself safe by stopping penetration and smuggling of the groups to its territory. Therefore, the agreement would be in the best interest of the two sides.
As per the agreement, the two sides can achieve their objective by sharing of intelligence between the two agencies among others.
A statement from Mutyambai’s office said: “They discussed various matters, including a joint effort in the fight against regional and transnational crime and cooperation between our two police services geared towards capacity building.” Kenya is preparing itself to open its policy institute.
Ethiopian which already has a police institute vowed to share its experience and provide all necessary support including skilled human power to its neighbor Kenya.
Other technical, operational, and communication linkages are anticipated to feature the cooperation.
The Ethio-Kenya economic integration is expected to rise higher than what it is in the present time given the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) corridor and Ethiopia’s purchase of land at Lamu port.
The area will be intensified with transport and infrastructure projects. Highways, standard gauges, oil refineries, and airports are some of the projects already under construction.
Given the large investment and transactions happening and to happen soon between the two countries, strengthening security cooperation would be mandatory.
Ethiopian and Kenyan policies hence are tasked with building strong cooperation and carrying out successful operations against OLF shene, Al-Shabaab and others.
Ensuring peace and stability mean realizing economic integration and thereby the two countries achieve development. Since Jomo Kenyatta- pan African and first leader of the Kenyan Republic, Ethiopia and Kenya have had strong and fruitful diplomatic relations.
Over the years, the ties have been growing in different areas such as economic integration, security, and others.
They are also supporting one another on international stages. Kenya proved its neighborliness at the United Nations Security Council meeting saying Ethiopia has the wisdom and capacity to solve its internal issue by itself.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
The 22 February 2022