By Abdulkadir Khalif
The appointment of Nur Hassan Hussein alias Nur Adde as the new prime minister to replace the deposed Ali Mohammed Ghedi has brought an end to three weeks of public anxiety.
President Adullahi Yusuf last Thursday formally introduced his new prime minister to the Transitional Federal Parliament at Baidoa town, 240 km southwest of Mogadishu, and appealed for the legislators' endorsement of the upcoming Cabinet.
Nur Adde then outlined his government's priorities as security, reconciliation and facilitation of humanitarian assistance.
"Perhaps, one stumbling block to stabilisation is how to replace the Ethiopian troops with a less controversial force," commented Deeqa Hassanow, an information analyst in Mogadishu. "Nur Adde appears to have a big job also handling the northern conflict between Somaliland and Puntland," she added.
Events over the past three weeks have shown clearly what needs fixing in military and political terms.
Mama Istahil nearly fainted when she received a phone call with an urgent message. She was informed that her son, Muridi, had been hit by a stray bullet on Thursday, November 8. He was shot in the abdomen soon after locking up a grocery belonging to his family. He wanted to leave early to avoid being caught in the sporadic shootings around Bakara market, the biggest trading centre in Mogadishu.
Muridi's dead body was discovered by Ali Barre, a trader who supplied Istahil's grocery with onions and potatoes. "All I could do was to place the body on a wheelbarrow, zigzag through the alleys and bumpy tracks to deliver the deceased at Waberi district, two kilometres from the site of the fatal incident," Barre told the three dozen people who attended the funeral the next day.
In violence-ridden Mogadishu, Muridi was neither the only unarmed civilian to die, nor Istahil the only parent to lose a loved one. Over 50 people died in Somalia's capital in one of the bloodiest days in its history dubbed "Bloody Thursday." The dead included three Ethiopian soldiers, whose bodies were transported over seven kilometers from Suuqa Xoolaha sub-district to be dragged along Soddonka avenue by an angry mob.
"Hordes of people fell upon the fallen Ethiopian servicemen, chanting war songs," narrated an eyewitness.
Highly charged Ethiopian troops then mounted their biggest counter-attack ever, especially targeting Al-Shabaab, the radical militant group that has vowed to kick the Ethiopians out of Somalia and crush the TFG.
Battalions of Ethiopian troops sealed off entire neighbourhoods before shelling targeted areas where Al-Shabaab operatives were believed to be in hiding. The northwestern sub-districts of Hodan, Gubta, Daynile and Huriwa were all affected.
When the shelling subsided, the forces of the TFG joined Ethiopian troops in a house-to-house search. Traffic along Industrial Road, Soddonka and Wadnaha avenues was restricted.
The development enabled the pro-TFG forces to control the main street junctions. "Every vehicle and even donkey-driven carts were subjected to inspection for possible smuggling of weapons," remarked Musse Farah, a spare parts trader at Bakara market.
Since Bloody Thursday that l toed the death of so many people in Mogadishu, the city has experienced an unusual turn of events. Suddenly, the have fallen silent, except for occasional mine explosions. The lull in fighting has given an opportunity for many families to pack up and leave for whatever destination they feel offers some safety. The most favourite direction for the escapees is the already overcrowded road between Mogadishu and Afgoye.
The events of the past few weeks appear to have been shaped by statements made by politically influential people. The Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamed Omar Habeb alias Mohamed Dhere, vowed to use force to crush what he called "terror groups."
Adam Hashi Ayrow, presumed to be the top leader of Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, has refused to accept defeat. Instead, he has promised that his largely clandestine forces will attack all foreign troops, including those of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). An attack was launched against the Ugandan peacekeepers on Friday November 16.
Contrary to Ayrow's determination to continue assaults on TFG, Ethiopian and even Amisom troops, Sheikh Shariff Sheikh Ahmed - who leads the Asmara-based Somalia Liberation Movement - stated that his followers will refrain from challenging the TFG and Ethiopian soldiers. The move angered Al-Shabaab, who condemned the withdrawal of much-needed solidarity at a crucial moment.
Inexplicably, the city's security situation has improved since Bloody Thursday and the subsequent pro-TFG campaign. The insurgents' hideouts were demolished by the Ethiopians' military intervention. The insurgents are said to have suffered their biggest setback at the besieged Bakara market.
"Since military victory alone cannot guarantee a secure environment for the inhabitants of Mogadishu, it is up to Nur Adde, the new prime minister, to forge a political solution," remarked Omar Noor Jumale, a former civil servant in Mogadishu.
The Transitional Federal Parliament's approval of the recommendations of the reconciliation conference held in Mogadishu in July and August has removed major hurdles from Nur Adde's way. He can nominate Cabinet portfolio holders from within parliament or outside, offering the chance to incorporate former foes into government.
A former crime expert and policeman, Nur Adde is also expected to tackle the thorny issue of radical groups. His background as a humanitarian worker under the chairmanship of the Somali Red Crescent Society should will come in handy.
The last thing Mama Istahil and other parents want is more fighting that takes away the lives of other loved ones.
By: Abdulkadir KhalifNairobi, Kenya