The African Union military force in
Somalia (AMISOM) says it is ready to deal with threats posed by Islamists al-Shabab.
assurance comes after the Islamic group Sunday threatened to continue fighting
any international force slated to intervene after Ethiopian troops leave. AMISOM says it has the backing of
ordinary Somalis, who have been expressing their frustration with increasing attacks perpetuated
by al-Shabab. Some political analysts, however, believe the withdrawal of
Ethiopian troops would plunge the country into chaos. But some Somalis say the
Ethiopian troop pullout would seriously undermine the support that al-Shabab
has been enjoying so far. Washington has classified al-Shabab as a terrorist
AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye Ba-Hoku tells reporter Peter Clottey that
ordinary Somalis want peace and stability to return to the country.
(al-Shabab spokesman) Muqtar Robow is saying is nothing new into this mission
area. Secondly, we know that the people of Somalia are tired of war, and so
what we have been trying to do is to mobilize the positive forces inside and
outside Somalia to work with us, especially, the Somalis," Ba-Hoku noted.
said a military option is not the only solution to resolving Somalia's
"Our understanding of the
problem here is that there is no amount of force can resolve this conflict
here. And fortunately enough, the majority of the people of Somalia want peace,
and we are working with the majority. And we are sure that with the majority,
the minority would soon be one of us. Preparations are already done, and the
Djibouti agreement says that once the Ethiopian troops withdrew, there would be
an arrangement between the Joint Security Committees, which are constituted by
the Transitional Federal Government, the Alliance for the Liberation of
Somalia, which signed the agreement in Djibouti, and AMISOM, and that is what
exactly is taking place," He said.
Ba-Hoku said AMISIOM is in Somalia to
ensure peace and stability.
"So I think our
understanding as troops in the mission area is that there is nothing that is
lost. And we would continue to help the people of Somalia to achieve peace," Ba-Hoku pointed out.
said AMISOM would be resolute in providing security for ordinary Somalis
despite threats of Islamists insurgents.
assurance from AMISOM is the same assurance we had always given. First of all,
you will recall that with our arrival into this mission area, there were many
obstacles. And among other things, it was believed that Somalia was a no-go
area and having been in this area for two years there is nothing that convinces
me that this country is a no-go area. Yes, we admit there are difficulties,
there are challenges and hardships. But I mean what else can the rest of the
world do? Leave Somalis to go to the drains? And then for it to become the
breeding grounds for all sorts of criminals?" he asked.
said the ongoing instability is a result of an absence of a fully functional
of the people we are dealing with are simply taking advantage of a vacuum that
ash emanated from a lack of government for the last 18years. There is no more
amount of time that we can give to this country to sort out themselves alone,"
Ba-Hoku pointed out.
said AMISOM's lack of the much needed manpower would be a herculean task in its
bid to ensure absolute peace and stability in Somalia.
is one of the challenges. You will recall that the amount of troops that was
planned for was eight thousand, and as we speak today, the troops are about
three thousand, six hundred, thereabout. Certainly, there is a big shortage,
and when you consider that the Ethiopian troops are withdrawing, obviously that
one makes us thinner on the ground. It creates strains us, and we would be
overstretched, obviously," he said.
said there is need to ensure Somalia is stable.
think for us as members that have been deployed into this mission area from the
African Union, a pan-African solution, a pan-African approach to the problem is
the way to go. I think there is no amount of sacrifices that we should not do
to achieve that," he said.
he said there are ongoing discussions to ensure an increase in African Union
forces in Somalia.
know that there are consultations at the highest levels between the heads of
state, the armies of these countries, the African Union Commission, the Transitional
Federal Government here, and the leadership of AMISOM. What I can assure is
that I think sooner than later, my opinion is that the year 2009 is a very
defining year for Somalia," he said.
for al-Shabab, Sheik Muqtar Robow, warned of clashes between insurgent fighters
in Somalia and reiterated their resolve to continue fighting the Ethiopian
troops, who began withdrawing from Mogadishu on Friday. He vowed that his
forces would continue attacking the retreating Ethiopian troops. Robow pledged
that the fighting would not stop, even after the Ethiopian troops' withdrawal
is completed over the coming days.