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AU Special Representative for Somalia Calls for Joint Efforts in the Fight Against Al Shabaab

Storyline:National News

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira Tuesday said the Somali public must work closely with the country’s security forces and AMISOM, if the war against the Al-Shabaab is to be won.

Speaking at the monthly media briefing, held in Mogadishu, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, who is also the Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), urged the public to play its part in denouncing Al Shabaab and volunteering crucial information on the group’s activities to Somali security forces.

“What we need to do is to increase our capacity to seal our communities, our villages and transform ourselves to be soldiers of our communities,” Ambassador Madeira noted, adding that the involvement of the public is crucial in winning the fight against terrorism.

“AMISOM will fight with guns. You will fight with information. If you fight with information, these people will have nowhere to hide and if they do not hide, SNA (Somali National Army) will come and arrest them and your place will be a better place to live in,” he said. The SRCC reiterated that Al Shabaab still poses a major threat to the country’s progress in achieving peace and security.

The briefing was attended by the Deputy SRCC, Lydia Wanyoto; the Acting Force Commander Maj. Gen. Nakibus Lakara and the AMISOM Police Commissioner, Anand Pillay. The function was organized to inform the public on the status of AMISOM’s activities and achievement made so far in the fight against Al Shabaab to help secure peace and stability.

The SRCC denied allegations that AMISOM was on the back foot and had halted offensive operations against the militants, stressing that the agenda to defeat terrorists was still on course.

“We cannot stop the war against these people (Al-Shabaab) and we have never stopped because they are now engaged in asymmetric warfare. We need to adjust all the time. We need to adjust on the battle front and on the main supply routes because the enemy is treacherous,” he said, emphasizing that AMISOM had to make adjustments in its tactics since Al Shabaab was now using local residents as human shields.

“We need to be able to attack the enemy without affecting the population. The enemy has no values, has no respect for human rights, has no respect for dignity and most importantly; no respect for international humanitarian law,” Ambassador Madeira explained.

The SRCC enumerated the achievements made by AMISOM and SNA in the recent past, citing the liberation of more towns from the grip of Al Shabaab militants in Middle Shabelle region. The gains, he observed, had helped in opening up more supply routes, in line with the Mission’s overall strategic objective of significantly degrading the enemy.

“In towns like El-Baraf and Biyo Adde, hitherto closed to the world for close to 20 years, normalcy has returned and children are now in school. These are the successes that make the sacrifices of our troops worthwhile,” Ambassador Madeira said.

He urged the international community to increase aid to Somalia, lauding the recent decision by the heads of state from troop contributing countries to enhance support to AMISOM and the Somali National Army, and the renewed interest in the country at the recent High- Level Partnership Forum in Istanbul, Turkey.

On the political front, the SRCC said AMISOM was working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure an enabling environment for the forthcoming elections, scheduled to take place later this year. He commended the progress so far made in the state formation process.

Somalia is already working on the National Development Plan 2017-2020, a blueprint that will guide the country in achieving universal suffrage by the year 2020. In addition, the country is also undertaking the Federal Constitutional Review, which is expected to be concluded before year-end.