ADDIS ABABA, The Kenyan government has instituted a number of measures to counter terrorism and violent extremism at both the national as well as regional level, says President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Addressing a meeting of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) here over the weekend, on the sidelines of the ongoing AU summit being held in the Ethiopian capital, he said one of the measures was the establishment of a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a multi-agency mechanism which ensures that counter-terrorism policies are implemented.

Other measures include rehabilitation programmes and initiatives which enhance de-radicalisation processes through amnesty for all returnees from Somalia who wish to abandon criminal affiliations to rejoin society, President Kenyatta added.

Regionally, he said, Kenya, alongside Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Burundi, had contributed to peace, security and stabilization in Somalia through the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Through these efforts, we have recovered significant territories that were previously under the command of al Shabaab, President Kenyatta said.

We have also facilitated humanitarian relief by securing the main supply routes to enable safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to most of the affected populations.”

Despite the gains made in the fight against terrorism, President Kenyatta urged African countries to step up their support to the AU Peace and Security Council to ensure continuous progress in countering terrorism and violent extremism. Africa must stand ready to provide the required backing be it administrative, military or financial to enable the PSC to carryout out its mandate effectively, he added.

The Kenya Government continues to appeal to our brothers and sisters on the continent to also collectively address the root cause and development of violent extremism in the different regions in Africa. We must enhance levels of cooperation and collaboration with both regional and international partners through capacity building initiatives in emerging counter-violent extremism concepts and practices.”

He said the unfortunate timing of the AMISOM troop withdrawal at a time when the level of preparedness of the Somali National forces to take over the security responsibility of their country was still low was a major challenge. “Indeed I would like to call on the UN and the AU to ensure a practical and realistic AMISOM exit timelines that should be subjected to regular reviews, he said.

President Kenyatta said to prevent the existence of vulnerable groups that could expose Somalia and Kenya to terrorist attacks, there was dire need for policy makers and leaders to focus on resolving conflicts by addressing the root causes to cut out emerging threats.

Effective counter-terrorism policy interventions must focus on protecting and empowering the communities, investing in peace building, reconciliation and re-construction processes that include the people exposed to terrorism and the larger societies, he said.