To many people, it may be incomprehensible that a country can exist without a government or at least a central authority. However, Somalia provides the latest example of this naive reality.
For the last sixteen years, Somalia has not had a government and people were simply living on their own; no central bank, no national army, no ministries, no parliament and all the other organs of government. It sounds strange but it’s true.
Collapse of Somali state
The once powerful Somalia that boasted of the largest and most modern army in Africa, succumbed to the mismanagement of the same military and lost her nationhood. In fact, Somalia had the most advanced air force in eastern Africa at the time.
In the picture, are some of the Somali Russian made Hunters on a military parade in the 1970s.
Somali Military Parade in the 1970s
The Somali army was effectively decimated in the 1977-78 war, when they sought to annex the Ogaden region from Ethiopia, an operation that terribly boomeranged. To date, the country has not had a force of her own.
Indeed, the political impasse that reigns in Somalia today is deep seated in the role the military played in the affairs of this country. None the less, just like a necessary evil; Somalia still needs an army in order to regain her former great self.
African Union role
The African Union mission in Somalia has a role to play in restoring the state of Somalia. The AU mandate categorically states that AMISOM “…will assist in the implementation of the National Security and Stabilisation Plan (NSSP) of Somalia, particularly the effective re-establishment and training of all inclusive Somali security forces…”.
In fact, AMISOM would make a big difference if it turned into a training mission.
Training the Somali military will mean practical empowerment of the Somalis to defend themselves. It will also enable the Transitional Federal Government to consolidate its authority over the entire country that is now torn apart among the different clan militias.
It is important however that all clans are represented during recruitment so that the national army is all inclusive.
Such training must emphasise issues of professional and ideological discipline, as well as training on protection and promotion of human rights. This way, the trained force would form the nucleus of a Somali People’s Defence Forces that would undertake the supreme role of protecting the people and the sovereignty of the Somali nation.
Capt. Ankunda is the spokesman of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia