December 16, 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta meeting with Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) on Tuesday 15 December 2020 at State House, Nairobi. PHOTO: TWITTER
By Imran Otieno
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, December 15 met with Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The meeting took place at State House, Nairobi with a number of high-profile personalities in attendance including Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Robert Kibochi.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta today at State House, Nairobi met Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) during which they discussed the strengthening of military cooperation between Kenyan and American forces.
“Townsend was accompanied to the meeting by Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Robert Kibochi and US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter,” read a statement from State House.
The meeting comes after the US military through Africa Command sought permission to conduct drone airstrikes in Kenya for counterterrorism missions against al-Shabaab in September.
The US sought permission after an attack in January 2020 on the airfield at Manda Bay that killed three Americans and caused damage worth billions of shillings.
The draft rules for potential airstrikes, according to the New York Times, will still have to be approved by US Defense Secretary and US President.
Under the proposal, the US will, however, seek consent from Kenya for any strike which is a contrast to Somalia where permission has been granted to carry out strikes when it sees fit.
Questions were raised by several officials who noted that Kenya has a stable government and capable security forces hence little need for the United States to carry out frequent drone strikes.
The country has been experiencing an increase in terror attacks, especially in the North-Eastern region as heavy explosions and gunshots were reported in Borehole 11 area of Mandera South on Tuesday, December 15.
Al-Qaeda linked terror group Al-Shabaab on Monday released a video displaying the names and faces of five assailants who attacked the DusitD2 complex in Nairobi last year.