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Somali Legislator Welcomes AU’s Blockade Call

  • Peter Clottey

A lone figure makes its way past the bushes in the outskirts of the central Somali coastal town of Hobyo as the outline of a hijacked ship is seen anchored off the coast (File)

A former Somalia foreign minister has welcomed the African Union’s call for a naval and air blockade.

But, Abdullahi Sheik, who is currently a Somali member of parliament, wondered why the international community has failed to bolster the continental body’s effort to stabilize the war-ravaged country.

Sheik said there was a need for the international community to show commitment towards Somalia’s stability.

“They (AU) have for so long been concentrating on how to assist Somalia on the security field, but they have been powerless because the international community was dragging its feet…I think it is a good initiative to call upon the international community to come up with a program that can actually respond to these needs of Somalia.”

Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union’s commissioner for peace and security urged the U.N. Security Council to approve of an air and naval blockade to help Somalia curb piracy and terrorism.

Lamamra said the blockade would prevent foreign weapons and fighters from reaching Somali insurgents who have vowed to overthrow the internationally-backed administration.

Hard-line Somali insurgents have vowed to overthrow the internationally-backed administration
Hard-line Somali insurgents have vowed to overthrow the internationally-backed administration

Lamamra also requested support for more international aid and troops. The AU recently proposed increasing the size of its peacekeeping force in Somalia from about 7,000 to 20,000.

Legislator Sheik said there has not been a proper mechanism to implement previous calls for blockades, but added that the international community can help stabilize the war-torn country.

“There should be an integrated program. Aerial control is one component, marine blockade is another issue, the development of the Somali security is another issue, (and) the introduction of the international peacekeepers fully empowered is another dimension of the issue. So, it has to be a package all together.” Sheik said.

He further said that the Somali parliament and the Federal Transitional administration have demonstrated their willingness to cooperate with the international community to help the country’s recovery to stability and constitutional rule.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Johnnie Carson, said Somali leaders must do more to curb internal conflict and to create a stable government that Somalis can trust.

Carson also said the U.S. will pursue partnerships with the regional governments in Somalia's Puntland region and the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

He said the move is meant to broaden U.S. engagement in Somalia taking into account the complex nature of Somali society and politics.