Kenya changes tact in anti-terrorism fight

Interior and National Administration Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo. 

Photo credit: Pool

Kenya will be focusing on peacebuilding and prevention of conflict as opposed to combating outcomes of violence in its efforts to counter violent extremism and skirmishes within its borders.

Also, Kenya will establish a multi-partner Trust Fund financed by the government, private sector, international partners, and others primarily focused on prevention and sustaining peace.

This was revealed by Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo at the International Peace Institute headquarters in New York, USA where he spoke on Kenya’s national peacebuilding and prevention strategy.

In its new approach towards attaining lasting peace, the State will work on strengthening civil society organisations involved in preventing and countering violent extremism, addressing digital concerns including hate speech, misinformation and disinformation and establishing reforms in the political process.

Kenya began the review of its peacebuilding and national cohesion strategies in 2023. The initiative was spearheaded by the National Steering Committee for peacebuilding and conflict management and was assisted by the Independent Panel of Advisors, with support from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office.

The entire process involved over 10,800 participants including government agencies, sub-national governments, CSOs, think tanks, academia, independent experts, ordinary citizens, women, youth and persons with disabilities.

This robust public participation, PS Omollo said, highlighted concerns that exist in society in regards to political inclusion and economic distribution, which can ultimately manifest as threats to peace.

Dr Omollo said multilateralism is very crucial in advancing peace, security, human rights, sustainable development and cohesion while involving everyone in the process. This, he said Kenya had learnt from experiencing political disturbances during electioneering periods, which is a phenomenon that even the most advanced democracies go through at times. 

“No one country is immune from inter and intra-state conflict as witnessed in recent and current theatres in Europe and the Middle East. This calls for all member states to collectively cooperate and invest in prevention of violence before it occurs,” PS Omollo said.

Other than working to sustain peace within its borders, Kenya has also prioritised prevention and mediation of conflict at regional and global levels.

It led the East Africa Community Regional Forces in peace building efforts in Eastern DRC, offered mediation to support the AU efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ethiopia.

“We chaired the IGAD led mediation in Sudan, and we are now engaged in efforts to bring opposition parties who did not sign to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to come on board,” Dr Omollo said.

In addition, Kenya actively participated in efforts to strengthen the AU’s African Peace and Security Architecture, as well as regional early warning and response mechanisms particularly The Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism and EAC mechanism.

The Principal Secretary also highlighted Kenya’s efforts to institute political reforms aimed at preventing conflict and sustaining peace and urged UN members states to always consider “prevention at the highest political level possible” and “create a whole of society approach.

“The review has highlighted the importance of sustainable, and in the long run nationally-derived financing for peacebuilding, not only to ensure continuity in this financial environment but also to enable a more strategic, coordinated national approach to peacebuilding,” he said.