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Somalia Official Says Aim Remains Peace and Security

  • Peter Clottey

An official of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government told VOA the European Union sponsored training of the country’s police force is progressing steadily despite stiff opposition from hard-line insurgent groups.

Government spokesman Abdi Kadir Walayo said President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s administration is still determined to wrestle power from hard-line Islamic insurgent groups and to restore peace and stability.

“For the last 20 years, the whole Somali government infrastructure has been shattered and the police force and other law enforcement agencies were also part of that infrastructure. And, the present administration was trying to train and put back the infrastructure and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Walayo’s comment came as the country prepares for its independence day celebrations. It also follows claims by insurgents that they have seized control of significant parts of the capital, Mogadishu, on the eve of the country’s independence observation.

The insurgents, including al-Shabab and Hezbul Islam rebel group, have refused to recognize the Somali government vowing to overthrow the administration and implement the strictest form of the Sharia law.

Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to al Qaeda, al-Shabab has called on leaders of Hezbul Islam to join its ranks to continue the fight against the government.

Meanwhile, Hezbul Islam issued a warning Monday banning all celebrations, including the country’s Independence Day observation claiming it is “un-Islamic”. The insurgent group also threatened Somalis who violate the warning with unspecified punishment.

Backed by the United Nations and other international organizations, the Somali government has been battling almost daily with insurgents for the control of the country after years of turmoil.

Government spokesman Walayo said neighboring countries have been hosting the training of the Somali security forces.

“The program (funded) by the European Union is progressing well and the training has been going on in some parts in Eastern Africa like in Uganda and other parts. And, Walayo also said the administration is working closely with its international partners, including the African Union, to bolster security in Mogadishu.

He denied accusations that the government is using child soldiers to fight the insurgents.

“The government denies (this allegation) and the Minister of Women and Family Affairs has worked out the convention of child rights and she is going to present to the parliament. (After that) Somalia will be part of the international convention for the rights of the child. So, this (allegation) is fabricated,” he said.

Somalia gained its independence in 1960 from Britain after withdrawing from what was called British Somaliland to create Somalia.

Somalia has been without an effective government since long time President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.

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