Kenya will not negotiate with Al-Shabaab militants holding Kenyans hostage, says PM

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Jan 24th, 2013
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UntitledCNN – Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says his country will not negotiate with al Qaeda-linked Somali militants who have threatened to kill Kenyan hostages unless Nairobi releases all Muslims charged with terrorism.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Odinga told CNN’s John Defterios that his government’s position was “very clear.”

“We do not want to negotiate with terrorists,” he said. “We expect them to surrender Kenyan citizens who they are holding hostage without any kind of conditions whatsoever.”

Al-Shabaab, the Islamist terror organization which controls parts of neighboring Somalia and is being pursued by Kenyan and African Union forces, issued the demands on Wednesday when it released a video of two Kenyan hostages seized a year ago in a cross-border raid.

The group demanded that Nairobi release all Muslims held on terror charges, and secured the release of Muslims held in Uganda on similar charges.

Odinga said that terrorism was an “international affair,” and that a collective response was required from the global community to tackle terror groups on the continent such as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Islamists in northern Mali.

“The African Union must have a common stand and mobilize the African governments to provide the forces to face this international menace, working together with the United States and the European countries,” he said.

Odinga, the leading candidate in Kenya’s upcoming March presidential elections, told CNN he did not anticipate a repeat of the violence which wracked the country after the previous vote, which saw hundreds killed and damaged the economy.

He said the country had a new constitution, electoral commission and electoral laws and reformed the judiciary and security forces. “The situation right now is … different from what it was five years ago.”

He said his focus, if elected, would be on building the country’s productivity, and diversifying an economy predicted by the IMF to grow 5.6% this year.

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