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Kenya soft power key to stamp out terrorism and regional conflicts

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya should leverage on diplomatic and military clout to stamp out terrorism and conflicts that have engulfed the greater Horn of Africa region, an international relations expert said on Sunday.

Peter Kagwanja, the CEO of Nairobi based Pan African think-tank, Africa Policy Institute said in a commentary published by a local daily that Kenya is well placed to lead regional efforts to contain violent extremism and civil strife.

"Kenya’s new counter violent extremism strategy has the potential of enhancing its diplomatic capacity to stop the threat of violent extremism within its borders and the region at large," said Kagwanja.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sept. 7 launched a national strategy to fight terrorism and radicalization of the country’s youth.

Kagwanja said the strategy outlines a broad vision to defeat terrorism through tactical application of military, economic and diplomatic tools.

"The blueprint signifies Nairobi’s efforts to balance between the imperatives of security and those of democracy; to drain the swamp of terrorism by eliminating soft support for terrorist organizations and denying them room to radicalize," Kagwanja said.

His remarks came in the wake of an attempted raid in a police station in the coastal city of Mombasa on Sunday by female attackers linked to Somalia-based terrorist network Al-Shabaab.

The three female attackers were killed by police as they attempted to storm a cell and release terror suspects.

Kenya has heightened vigilance in the wake of intelligence reports indicating the country is still vulnerable to terror attacks.

A recent report from Intergovernmental Authority on Development, disclosed that Al-Shabaab had intensified recruitment of women, children and youth to replenish its diminishing number of fighters.

The report urged countries in the greater Horn of Africa region to retool their counter-terrorism strategies in the face of a rapidly evolving threat.

Kagwanja stressed that regional counter-terrorism efforts will only succeed if countries strengthen cooperation in critical areas like intelligence sharing, border control and public outreach.

"Regional states and organizations must craft comprehensive strategies to prevent and counter youth radicalization that bleeds terror and violence," said Kagwanja.

He added that Kenya would gain immensely from spearheading regional initiatives to contain terrorism and recurrent civil strife.



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