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Tension Evident as Somali Government Plans Disarmament

There is tension in the Somali capital Mogadishu following the transitional government’s announcement to disarm the public. About 4,000 government troops are expected in Mogadishu in the next few days to start disarming people in the city. The troops were trained in the last two months by Ethiopian troops who helped the transitional national government dislodge the Union of Islamic Courts.

Ali Iman Sharmake is the Managing Partner Africa Media, a Mogadishu-based media firm. VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga reached him in the Somali capital.

Sharmarke described the situation in Mogadishu as calm but tense. “The last three days were quiet except for the random killings and the general insecurity”.

He explained that the general understanding was that the government would go through negotiation and reconciliation with different stakeholders. “But lately the government announced that it will stabilize the city and disarm the public within thirty days. There are about 4,000 militias trained by the Ethiopians to form the first units of the transition national government [TFG] force”.

He said these were the forces that are expected in the city to begin the disarmament exercise that has resulted in the current tension.

Sharmake attributes the tension to the composition of those forces and people who have arms for self-protection. “Most of those forces are from Puntland and some militia from some former war lords and hence people do not consider them neutral.

He added, “people were expecting negotiations before disarmament because there are some people in the city who have arms, like the business community, who are afraid for their businesses and wellbeing if there is disarmament before there is comprehensive security in the city”.

Sharmarke also expressed doubt whether the 4,000 TFG troops would be sufficient to disarm the more than 10,000 armed militias who are thought to be in Mogadishu. “There are fears that there may be a clash between the government forces and the militias that may lead to chaos,” he said.

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