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AMISOM Committed to Somali Government

A top official of the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) told VOA the group will continue to protect the Transitional Federal Government despite increasing threats from the hard-line insurgent group, al-Shabab.

Major Barigye Ba-Huko said the insurgents are just “blowing hot air,” but adds that AMISOM will not dismiss them.

“We do not take the threat lightly. Our mission, our mandate still stands as the same as it has always been. We do not believe that military solutions, use of violence, the use of the gun is the way to go. It has not been able to solve the problems of this country for the last 20 years and neither do we think that it will do it now,” he said.

Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong links to al-Qaida, al-Shabab vowed Monday to seize the presidential palace. The insurgent group reportedly controls large portions of land north of the capital, Mogadishu.

But, Major Ba-Huko expressed skepticism about the ability of the insurgent group to seize the presidential palace.

“We would advise those who are advocating for those actions that war begets war. We do not believe that they would be able to march into state house. We do not encourage it, but suffice it to say that we are very considerate over the population who continue to suffer at the hands of these fellows,” Ba-Huko said.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government has been battling insurgents, including al-Shabab, who have vowed to overthrow the administration.

But, Major Ba-Huko said the latest threat is a mere insurgent publicity exercise.

“It’s unfortunate that, quite periodically, these people will come up they seem to be fighting on the two fronts; the front of propaganda and the front of the gun. So, I think it is just hot air [and] they want to keep the moral of their fighters. We think it [threat] is just a diversionary tactic,” Ba-Huko said.

He also said AMISOM will encourage dialogue among Somalia to resolve their problems instead of using violence.

AMISOM is mandated by the African Union, as well as the United Nations, to support Somalia’s transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the security forces, and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since the overthrow of long time President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.