Amisom’s role in Somalia not yet over

Saturday December 29 2012

By FRED OLUOCH Special Correspondent

African peace-keepers in Somalia face tough times ahead in their bid to liberate the entire country.

Al Shabaab still controls large parts of Central Somalia like Bay and Bakool and the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) will have to put in more effort in order to liberate the entire country, security analysts said.

This comes even as Amisom’s mandate is set to expire in early March 2013. Recently, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, which saw the two recommend the extension of Amisom’s mandate to the UN Security Council.

They said that an extension to the mandate would assist in the stabilisation of Somalia, which is slowly returning to normalcy after two decades of civil war.

The Kenya Defence Forces spokesperson, Col Cyrus Oguna, said that although Al-Shabaab have no capacity to regroup into the force they were before the incursion, they have the capacity to disrupt the establishment of political institutions required to maintain security on the ground.

Towns under Amisom

Amisom controls the towns of Mogadishu, Kismayu and Baidoa. The past year saw the peacekeeping forces in Somalia record a big success in global peace-keeping.

Amisom managed to rout Al Shabaab in Kismayu and restore hope that it will succeed in pacifying Somalia, a task the UN forces led by United States failed to perform in the early 1990s.

However, many challenges remain ahead. One of the biggest is to set up a strong Somali National Army that will be capable of taking over liberated areas and maintaining security.

Another challenge is to establish political institutions that work, since Amisom is only supposed to provide a conducive environment to allow their establishment.

The third challenge is establishing regional governments to take over from Amisom. Recent reports suggest that Kenya was trying to influence the establishment of a local administration in Jubaland, which created tension between Kenya and the new Somalia government.

Undermining authority

Those close to President Mohamud say he feels that Kenya is undermining the authority of the new Somali government, and that Kenya is not enabling him establish his authority in areas like south Somalia until such a time that the region will be ready to elect its own local administration.

The Igad Initiative for Jubaland committee that was meeting in Nairobi has been moved to Kismayu for local ownership. They have been appointed by various clans to come up with mechanisms for local administration.

Kenya is keen to end the Al Shabaab threat because several of its towns have come under grenade attacks blamed on Al Shabaab fighters. The continued presence of large numbers of Somali refugees in the country also continues to pose a security threat.