Uhuru rejects US military drone proposal to conduct airstrikes in Kenya

Armed drone
An armed US drone striking. [Photo: courtesy]

Kenya has refuted reports of the US military seeking its authorization to carry our armed drone airstrikes in Kenya.

Speaking to France 24 on Thursday, he said that he will reject the proposal in the event that it is presented to him for authorization.

“There is no such situation, the authorization which has happened in the past of drone strikes on terrorist bases has been in Somalia but we are not at the level of having terrorist incursions,” he said.

Uhuru maintained that terrorism threats on Kenya had reduced drastically but there still was a challenge with Somali-based Islamist militants, Al-Shabaab.

The president maintained that Al-Shabaab remains a danger to the country.

In US military’s Africa Command is pushing for authorization to carry out armed drone strikes in parts of eastern Kenya rife with Al-Shabab militants.

US military Africa Command has since drafted the authorities which are yet to be approved by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and US President Donald Trump.

According to the New York Times, this “does not necessarily mean the United States will start carrying out drone attacks in Kenya” but “it would give Africa Command permission under certain circumstances to expand the counterterrorism drone war into another country.”

The push for the authorization to use armed drone strikes, officials said, was triggered by an attack on a joint Kenya-US military base in Manda Bay, Lamu early this year where two US military contractors and a soldier were killed in a Shabaab attack.

The damage caused was to the tune of millions of dollars.

US commanders frantically responded after the attack trying to pursue the Shabaab militants who had infiltrated Kenya from Somalia. US officials say the Africa Command requested for permission to carry out a drone strike while on Kenya territory but the insurgents had already retreated to Somali.

It was in this pursuit that the US military Africa Command discovered that they lacked guidelines to conduct drone strikes ultimately leading to the drafting of the regulations to be followed in readiness to counter a future attack by the militants.

In the guidelines, the US will seek Kenya’s authorization to carry out a drone airstrike but will require no permission to carry out a drone airstrike in Somalia since it is already approved.

Uhuru remained mum on the when Kenya will pull out its troops from Somalia.