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African anti-terrorism summit opens with call to eradicate the vice

by Naftali Mwaura NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The inaugural African regional high-level conference on countering terrorism opened in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Wednesday with a call for concerted efforts to eradicate the vice which is a threat to peace, stability and development in the continent.

The two-day conference will discuss innovative strategies that African countries should adopt to help defeat violent extremism that has gained foothold in the continent amid poverty, conflicts and high youth unemployment.

In his opening remarks, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General said the international community should step up technical and financial assistance to help African countries contain the threat of terrorism.

"The threat of terrorism in Africa is spreading and destabilizing entire regions," said Guterres.

He said that success of counter-terrorism activities in Africa hinges on political goodwill combined with a well-funded and equipped force as well as public awareness targeting youth at risk of radicalization.

The UN chief said that defeating terrorism is key to achieving the UN 2030 goals and the Agenda 2063 on creation of a stable, prosperous and inclusive African continent.

"There is an urgent need for the international community to support member states in this region to strengthen national capacities and resilience against terrorism," he added.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged enhanced cross-border surveillance, public awareness and empowerment of vulnerable youth to defeat the menace of terrorism that has mutated in recent time.

"Africa has suffered at the hands of terrorists as militants take over territories, disrupt the rule of law and pose existential threat to survival of nation states," said Kenyatta.

Kenya has partnered with the UN to host the Pan-African conference on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism attended by political leaders, senior policymakers, security experts and peace advocates.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of African Union Commission said that economic growth, enhanced intelligence sharing and support for youth-led enterprises is key to winning the war against terrorism.


Kenya urges Africa to enhance internal capacities to fight terrorism

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday called on African states to enhance internal capacities to deal with terrorism.

Kenyatta, who opened a two-day African regional high-level conference on counter-terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism in Nairobi, said the continent has the means and the will to defeat terrorism, adding that a win against the vice will be a victory for humanity.

.Coast Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representatives sign a petition | Coastweek

  "International bodies, individual governments, civil society, the media, the religious sector and all relevant stakeholders must come together, act in concert and ensure that we channel the immense talents, energy and vigor of our youth to the betterment of the world and to advance the quest for the human race," he said.

The meeting brought together Heads of government and ministers of interior, security and foreign affairs, including UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres as well as heads of counter-terrorism agencies, in addition to international organizations, civil society and leading think tanks.

The regional conference will inform the next UN High-level Conference of heads of counter-terrorism agencies of member states to be held June 2020.

Kenyatta said more should be done by African governments to prevent incitement and recruitment to weaken terrorism.

He called on Africans to stand together and never cede any ground to terrorists, saying terror groups should not be allowed to hold any territory on the continent.

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Coast Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representatives sign a petition during a press briefing in Mombasa. Coast Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on Tuesday gave the National Assembly a one-week ultimatum to expunge part of a Miscellaneous Amendment Act that has given the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) more powers to control CSOs. XINHUA PHOTO - FRED MUTUNE

The Kenyan leader said multi-national military missions that deny terrorists territory need to have strong mandates, appropriate force enablers and multipliers.

He said African countries need to have strong strategies to deal with violent extremism but must also engage capabilities to disengage, rehabilitate and reintegrate those who reject terrorist ideologies.

According to Kenyatta, terrorism is a Pan-African challenge and as such, governments must come up with joint responses and solutions.

"I call on the African Union to generate a powerful political consensus for confronting and defeating terrorism and all other forms of violent extremism conducive to terrorism," he said.

He said Africa must speak boldly and with one voice, "declaring to the enemies of freedom that we shall not relent and we shall prevail."

Kenyatta, whose country has suffered from terrorism, said the African Union, the UN and other conference participants should come up with strategies that deny terror groups the space to grow in Africa.

"Discussions and solutions should propose multi-faceted approaches to combating terrorism, extremism and radicalization that confront the vice on the battlefield, in places of worship, in market squares, in our schools and in our homes," he said.

He said such forces should be deployed alongside a comprehensive terrorism sanctions regime, and implemented together with a political strategy for stabilization and the delivery of services to the population if they are to be successful.

The president said Kenya has established anti-terrorism county action plans to reduce threats to the country.

The county action plans, tailored to the security needs of each of the 47 counties, are meant to bring together security sector actors covering enforcement agencies, administrators, civil society and citizens to prioritize collective counter terrorism actions that are measurable and time-bound.

He said the measures to combat violent extremism will be complemented by a student safety and security mechanism developed by the ministry of education.


Pan-African summit adopts resolutions aimed at eradicating terrorism

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The inaugural African regional high-level conference on countering terrorism ended on Thursday with the adoption of resolutions to revitalize the war against a vice that threatens the continent’s economic progress and stability.

Some 1,500 delegates from African Union members, multilateral organizations, civil society and academia attended the July 10-11 forum, discussing new strategies against terrorism and violent extremism in the world’s second largest continent.

Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, in his closing remarks, urged African countries to unite and root out terrorist networks, their sympathizers and financiers.

"Africa has been a victim of terrorism that is opposed to our democracy, development and stability," said Matiang’i.

"We must increase our commitment to combat ideologies that support or justify terrorism and rally behind alternative narratives that stand in opposition to hateful and divisive ideas," he said.

The meeting brought together heads of government and ministers of interior, security and foreign affairs, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and representatives of other international organizations and leading think tanks.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, attended the opening ceremony of the conference, where they renewed the call for solidarity against terrorism.

The gathering, organized by the UN and the Kenyan government, proposed the establishment of well-funded and homegrown programs to boost the war against militancy and radicalization in Africa.

Vladimir Voronkov, under-secretary-general of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office, said the international community will rally behind African-led and owned initiatives to eradicate a menace that has gained ground against a backdrop of poverty, conflicts and high youth unemployment.

"The regional conference will be a key part of a broader initiative to give new momentum to multilateral cooperation to address the evolving threat of terrorism and violent extremism," Voronkov said.

He said the outcome of the Nairobi forum will be shared at the high-level conference on counter-terrorism to be held in New York in June 2020.


Kenyan forum sets stage for renewed African counter-terrorism strategy

by Naftali Mwaura NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Pan African counter-terrorism summit in the Kenyan capital here set the stage for reorganization of initiatives aimed at containing a security threat that is rapidly evolving on the continent.

High-profile delegates who attended the forum from July 10 to 11, including United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, agreed that African countries must devise new strategies to revitalize the war against terrorism.

The UN chief said in his opening remarks that international terrorist networks continue to gain foothold in Africa, hence the need for concerted efforts to degrade them through adequate funding, political stability, rule of law and engagement of women and youth.

"For terrorism to be defeated, it is essential that African counter-terrorism is holistic, well-funded, underpinned by respect for human rights and most importantly backed by strong political will," said Guterres.

He hailed innovative counter-terrorism initiatives that focus on enhanced cross-border intelligence sharing and involvement of youth and women to educate communities on the dangers of violent extremism.

More than 1,497 delegates, including political leaders, policymakers, security experts and peace advocates, attended the Nairobi forum to discuss best practices that should be adopted to re-energize the fight against terrorism in Africa.

Kenyatta said Africa must speak boldly and with one voice, adding that African countries should leverage robust military campaigns, good governance, inclusive development and empowerment programs tailor made for vulnerable demographics in order to win the fight against terrorism.

"These measures require extensive support in terms of funding, logistics, legal frameworks and multilateral cooperation," said Kenyatta, adding that African countries should deploy more resources to counter recruitment of youth by militant groups.

He said that grassroots-based campaigns against violent extremism as well as empowerment of vulnerable youth through education, skill development and employment, are key to containing the spread of violent ideologies in Africa.

Kenya partnered with the UN to convene the Pan African forum, in a bid to chart a new beginning in the war against terrorism and violent extremism that have wreaked havoc on a continent hailed as the next frontier for growth and transformation.

Vladimir Voronkov, under-secretary-general of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office, said the forum injected fresh momentum to promote an African-led solution to a security challenge that transcends borders.

"The conference demonstrated the importance of African-led and African-owned counter-terrorism efforts that are strengthened by the solidarity and collective responsibility of the international community," said Voronkov.

He said the UN will help African countries strengthen their capacity to disrupt terrorism financing and recruitment of fighters through early detection.

Voronkov said the UN is mulling the establishment of an inter-agency platform in Kenya and other African countries to facilitate the exchange of biometric data on foreign fighters.

"We intend to establish an annual counter-terrorism dialogue between the UN and African regional bodies to help initiate practical steps to address the scourge of terrorism," said Voronkov.

African states should enhance sharing of best practices that are required to rejuvenate anti-terrorism fight against a backdrop of shrinking external support.

Policymakers and experts who attended the Nairobi summit said that successful and home-grown counter-terrorism strategies like community policing, cross-border intelligence sharing and robust action on illicit financial flows should be scaled up.

Martin Kimani, director of Kenya’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre, said enhanced vigilance combined with punitive legislation and empowerment of disadvantaged youth should inform the next phase of the war against violent extremism in Africa.

"We should exhaust the legal, diplomatic and financial tools at our disposal to achieve the goal of an African continent that is resilient to the threat of terrorism and radicalization of its youth," said Kimani.

Unlike brute force, inclusivity, fidelity to the rule of law and access to equal opportunities could prove more effective in defeating terrorism in Africa, said Khanneje Hassan, director of the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies.



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