Mohamed Ali Nur Americo : Al Shabaab are not Somalis, they are criminals
Q: It is during your tenure that Kenya sent its troops to Somalia. Has this intervention worked?
Nur: The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Amisom troops have helped in assisting the Somalia National Army fight the Al-Shabaab militia, which is almost being vanquished. Of course, there are some elements of the criminals who plan and execute attacks in Somalia and Kenya, but I believe with intelligence sharing, our security agencies will eliminate them.
Q: What is your greatest achievement during your tenure?
Nur: We have witnessed expansion on trade between Kenya and Somalia. We used to have three flights per week to Mogadishu, but we now have three to four flights daily. My hope is that soon, Kenya Airways will join Turkish airlines to fly frequently to Mogadishu and other cities. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, and with an enterprising people, further strengthening of trade ties will only mean that our economies will flourish. I am proud that today, the Somalia flag is hoisted high in our embassy after tireless war to reclaim the mission land, which had been irregularly sold in the 90s by one of my predecessors.
Q: What can you tell Kenyans?
Nur: Sometimes, whenever there are attacks, I see the media point fingers at Somalis. These Al Shabaab are not Somalis, they are criminals. Somali refugees are in Kenya because of these criminals. It is not therefore, right to profile Somalis. Kenya and Somalia have a common enemy and must be united to fight them. I thank Kenya for hosting our refuges for over 21 years, and the KDF for joining the Somalia National Army in fighting Shabaab.
Q: There have been reports that you are eying the presidency in the elections slated for next year. Already some of your supporters have come up with a hash tag on Twitter, #AmbAmerico2016 to launch a campaign to replace Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. Is this the case?
Nur: Those are wishes of my supporters and friends, but I’m yet to decide. My immediate task is to return home and encourage reconciliation. Somalis are hurting from over two decades of war. Families have been displaced and killed. I want to be a peace ambassador then proceed on Diaspora tours to meet my countrymen and women over peace.
Q: Why the name Americo?
Nur: This was a nickname given to my father when he worked for an American multinational company in the 1950s and 1960s. I inherited it.
Q: What motivates you to embark on this peace journey?
Nur: I forgave the killer of my 14 months old daughter, who confessed to be part of the gang that attacked my father’s house with grenades over 20 years ago. He said he had never had peace since. Some of his accomplishes were either in jail or dead. But even with the anger deep inside, I forgave him. If Somalis who have suffered similar fate can forgive, we will get stability.
Q: You are leaving when Kenya has given UNHCR three months to repatriate your refugees home, are you concerned?
Nur: Kenya and Somalia had signed a tripartite agreement with UNHCR on how to help the refugees return to their country and there are ongoing discussions to ensure the exercise is conducted smoothly. From last year, some of our people had voluntarily returned home. The Kenyan government has assured us everything will be done according to the agreement.
Q: Parting shot?
Nur: Kenyans are a warm and lovely people. I thank them for accommodating thousands of our people for the last 21 years and hope this relationship can be fostered further.