SOMALIA: Plan to integrate ex-militias into security forces

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?Reportid=87862


Photo: Hassan Mahamud/IRIN
A destroyed pasta factory in Mogadishu: The government has announced plans to boost security in the city (file photo)

NAIROBI, 25 January 2010 (IRIN) – Mogadishu residents have welcomed plans by the interim government to step up the integration of an earlier, ousted, regime’s security forces into its own army.

“People are fed up and are tired of the daily attacks and miserable living conditions in the camps [for the internally displaced]; the insurgents enjoy very little, if any, support,” a local journalist told IRIN. “The population will support any plan that may get them back into their homes.”

In the past, said Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar, Minister of Interior in the Transitional Federal Government, forces of the former President Abdullahi Yusuf and those of the Islamic courts [ousted in December 2006] operated in different commands, “even though they were supposed to be one. What we are now doing is to make sure that there is only one command structure and one cohesive force,” he told IRIN on 25 January.

He said the forces’ integration was part of an all-out mobilization to get a grip on the security situation in the city and the country at large.

“By the time we finish, there will be an effective force that will deal with and defeat the anti-peace elements,” Omar said.

He said there would be no chance that Al-Shabab or any other group would be able to infiltrate the force. “We know who the Islamic court forces are and there will be no possibility that someone from Al-Shabab will infiltrate.”

The militant Al-Shabab group is one of two insurgents that has been waging war against government troops in Mogadishu and in parts of southern and central Somalia.

A civil society source in Mogadishu, who requested anonymity, told IRIN the government had to move with speed to reorganize its forces.

“What we now have is a combination of two forces that don’t work well together,” the source said, adding that the government needed not only to find a way of integrating the two but removing criminal elements within them. “There have been numerous complaints by civilians that people within the government forces were committing crimes.”

Mogadishu has been experiencing daily attacks and fighting between government forces and the insurgents, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands.


Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
A woman walks past policemen in Mogadishu: City residents have welcomed plans by the government to step up the integration of former Islamic courts militiamen into its security forces (file photo)

Training force

At the same time, the European Union (EU) announced it would train 2,000 members of the Somali security forces in Uganda.

However, the civil society source said the offer, although welcome, was not enough. “That kind of force will not be enough if they are to subdue the insurgents and take full control of the country.”

Interior Minister Omar said the government welcomed the offer. “We will take full advantage of it,” he added.

Omar said the government saw regaining full control over Mogadishu as a top priority. “I cannot give you an exact date but I am confident that we will regain full control of the city.”

Previous attempts by transitional governments to secure Mogadishu have failed.

ah/mw

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