The African Union forces in Somalia
(AMISOM) say they are prepared to ensure stability in Mogadishu now that
Ethiopian troops have completed their troop withdrawal from the Somali capital.
City residents reported seeing scores of AMISOM troops coming into the capital,
ostensibly to maintain peace. Some Somali political analysts believe
yesterday's completion of the Ethiopian withdrawal would leave a power vacuum,
which Islamic hardliners, including al-Shabab could take advantage of to seize
control of the capital. So far, the al-Shabab insurgent group have reportedly
ambushed the departing soldiers and also clashed with other militias in a
deepening power struggle between rebel factions. AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye
Ba-Huko tells reporter Peter Clottey the African Union would add troops soon to
augment the peacekeeping efforts of AMISOM.
we know from Mogadishu is that the African Union Commission has been discussing
the matter with the troop-contributing countries. The two that already have
troops on the ground, plus some other countries that had previously pledged
troops, and the general trend and the general idea is that there should be more
troops coming into the mission area -- two battalions, one each from Uganda and
Burundi, and possibly another one from Nigeria in the not far future," Major Ba-Huko said.
He said the agreement
between the government and the opposition in Djibouti made provisions to ensure
stability after Ethiopia withdraws troops from Mogadishu and other areas in
"You know that the Djibouti
agreement stipulated clearly that the Ethiopian troops had to withdraw within
120 days after the signing of the agreement. And so the troops have been aware
of this, and the commanders have been aware, and they are preparing their
soldiers to fit into the places that Ethiopians are leaving," he said.
Major Ba-Huko said the
Djibouti agreement laid the down the grounds to take care of a possible power
vacuum after the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.
"The agreement also
stipulated that the gaps or the vacuum left by Ethiopian troops would be filled
by of the troops of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG). And so as we speak today, what is going
on in Mogadishu is that ARS and TFG on one hand, and AMISOM on the other, are
coordinating and are consulting to ensure that each group knows where it should
go to control. And sooner rather than later, we should be able to get out of
that, and the deployments would be done," Major Ba-Huko pointed out.
He said although many people
have been pessimistic about the Djibouti agreement, the agreement seems to be
"I am not only hopeful, but
I think it is the reality. The agreement, initially there were many skeptics
and pessimists, but eventually Sheik Sharif and the delegation arrived in the
country in early December, and since then, they have been moving around. They
have been holding meetings and consultations. And therefore to me, this
agreement is a reality. And what remains is the good will of all of the people
of Somalia to ensure that their will is established," he said.
Major Ba-Huko said there are
some elements who are opposed to a stable Somalia.
"Obviously, it is understood
that there are some factions that would possibly resist the peace process.
There are those who have been benefiting from this chaos, and they are scared
of peace. So those detractors, over a period of time need to be convinced, and
they need to be persuaded to embrace peace," Major Ba-Huko pointed out.
He said most Somalis are
tired of the absence of an effective government, which had culminated in instability
in the country.
"I think most importantly,
the people of Somalia are tired of war. The population is very tired of this
war that has lasted for the last 18 years. And that is the premise on which to
build because with a tired population, I think they would support the peace
process with all their heart for peace to return to Somalia," he said.