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At this stage of progress, Somalia needs support of friends, partners (Q & A)

Storyline:National News

Is Somalia ready to run its own affairs?
Last year, forces from the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) alongside the Somalia national army regained at least 18 towns from Al Shabaab, including key towns and port cities. That was the biggest expansion that Amisom has made since 2007. So, there is no doubt that militarily, Amisom is creating the required conditions for Somalis to do what they need to do, which is to put in place a political system.
However, this will take time. Defeating an extremist ideology and terrorist activity requires more than a military approach. It requires a comprehensive approach — both politically and economically. For example, politically, there is a need to rebuild a federal state where people have a voice in how they are governed. This will make leaders accountable and also help to boost the rule of law.
Economically, we can’t forget that in Somalia, 70 per cent of the people are under the age of 30 and it is one of the world’s poorest countries. The availability of economic activities and jobs is key in countering this extremism.
Has Al Shabaab been defeated or could it just be disappearing due to pressure, only to regroup later?
The militant group has been defeated. Besides being pushed out of key towns, it has been denied access to the port where it gets supplies and revenue. It has also been deprived of military training bases and facilities.
Equally, over the past few months, some al Shabaab members have surrendered and there are indications of disagreements within the group. This shows it is no longer a unified entity.
While all these are positive developments, we must never be blind to the fact that the militants still have the ability to carry out their terrorists activities, and some of its members still have access to weapons and equipment.
Recently, the Sierra Leonean troops left after completing their term with Amison. They were, however, not replaced due to Ebola-related issues. How has this affected operations in the country?
A decision was made in Addis Ababa that the Sierra Leonean troops would be replaced by a combination of Kenyans and Ethiopians. I believe this is underway. It is the priority of Amisom not to leave any form of security vacuum on the ground at any given moment.
What is the international community doing to help Somalis take control of their country?
Over the past two years, we have put in place a comprehensive partnership — the New Deal Somali Compact — which is founded on the principles of ownership and leadership by the Somali. It recognises that at this stage of development, Somalia needs the support of its international friends and partners.
For example politically, the country requires technical and strategic advice for the huge task ahead of creating a federal system of government. On the security front, Somalia needs partners on the ground including the international community to help prepare its national army to take charge.
Source: The East Africa