News / Africa

Somali Defense Minister: Army Reforms a Top Priority

Somali defense minister Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi, March, 8, 2011.
Somali defense minister Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi, March, 8, 2011.
Gabe Joselow
Somalia’s defense minister says integrating soldiers from clan militias into a national army is the military's biggest challenge as it tries to take control of internal security.   
 
In an interview with VOA from Mogadishu, Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi said restructuring the Somali national army to reflect the regions of the country is a top priority.
 
He said new soldiers are being recruited into the ranks from across the country to be trained together and top command posts also will be reformed to represent the diversity of the country.
 
“We are transforming a clan-based militia into a national defense force, trained and equipped and well disciplined to fight a counter-insurgency and counterterrorism also that will [become] in one or two years [an] international standard army,” said Fiqi.
 
In March, the U.N. Security Council eased restrictions on selling arms to Somalia, lifting an embargo put in place 20 years ago to stop the sale of weapons to warlords.
 
Minister Fiqi said the move will help the army to better equip itself, but said more logistical and financial assistance is needed from the international community.  He said he hopes the London Conference for Somalia on May 7 will help to cement that support.
 
“We expect from the London Conference, a well-coordinated international effort to rebuild our national army and security sectors, to be able to take care of our internal security,” said Fiqi.
 
African Union, Somali, and regional forces have pushed al-Shabab out of major cities, but the militants still control towns and villages mostly in the south.
 
Al-Shabab proved its ability to continue to strike at the heart of the Somali government, with a coordinated assault on the Supreme Court complex in Mogadishu two weeks ago.  More than 30 people were killed in the attack.
 
Ethiopia, which has troops deployed in Somalia, has signaled its frustration with the pace of military progress in the country.
 
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told his country's parliament last week he is anxious to pull troops out of Somalia, as soon as Somali and AU forces take over.
 
Minster Fiqi acknowledged that the transfer of military control will take time, but said he is confident in Ethiopia’s continued engagement in Somalia.
 
“And we have no reason to believe Ethiopia’s commitment to a safe and secure Somalia has changed in any way,” said Fiqi. "They know this is as much in their interest as that of Somalia.”
 
Somalia went through more than two decades of internal conflict without a stable central government, until the current administration was formed last year.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid