Wednesday, July 18, 2012
By Adnan Hussein
Officials attend the opening session of the African Union summit on Sunday (July 15th) in Addis Ababa. African leaders at the summit praised successes against al-Shabaab in Somalia. [Simon Maina/AFP]
African heads of state reiterated their support for Somalia as the African Union concluded its 19th summit in Addis Ababa this week.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramadan Lamamra said the peace and stability achieved in Somalia are the African Union's best accomplishments in its ongoing efforts throughout the continent.
During the summit, Lamamra said the Ethiopian National Defence Force, the Somali Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia have adopted an integrated approach towards achieving peace and security. He commended the Somali National Army on its victories, which he said have been significant in maintaining peace in Somalia.
Lamamra, an Algerian national, was re-elected to his post by members of the Executive Council of the African Union for a new four-year term on Monday (July 16th). Heads of African states also elected South African Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as head of the new African Union Commission, making her the first woman to hold the highest office in the AU.
Somali forces march towards Bardhere
Somali Deputy Minister of Defence Mohamed Ali Atoosh expressed his support for the African Union's decisions, saying they will raise morale among Somali forces attempting to wipe out al-Shabaab from the Bay and Lower Shabelle regions.
Atoosh told Sabahi he expects al-Shabaab to weaken as its leadership experiences internal divisions and members fear being driven out of their hiding places after they refused to surrender and rejected dialogue. The Somali government has pledged to offer amnesty and employment to al-Shabaab members who defect and surrender.
"The terrorist group has been dealt painful blows and we anticipate its fall very soon, when southern areas and cities are rid of their evils," he said. "Our brave soldiers are nearing their lairs and citizens support and encourage us to arrest the terrorists who are trying to flee towards the city of Kismayo."
Colonel Abdullahi Abdulle, a Somali army officer in Gedo, said his troops took over the villages of Jungal and Takarra, the last remaining towns under al-Shabaab control in Gedo, which borders Kenya, as the Somali army and allied forces march towards Bardhere, an al-Shabaab stronghold.
"Our armed forces have killed 11 militants and seized weapons and military equipment," he told Sabahi. "We were victorious and we defeated the terrorists and have broken their backs. They will not re-emerge in the southern and central parts of the country and they will not be able to stay safe."
Abdulle said Somali forces will deploy in all towns and villages in Gedo and Lower Juba. "We will not spare any effort when it comes to reinforcing our intelligence so we can defeat [al-Shabaab] militarily," he said.