Somalia: Ex-insurgents to merge with security forces - minister
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||10 April 2009|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Somalia: Ex-insurgents to merge with security forces - minister, 10 April 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49e44bdb17.html [accessed 18 December 2013]|
NAIROBI, 10 April 2009 (IRIN) - In an effort to secure Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, and ensure the population's safety, the recently elected National Unity Government has announced plans to integrate former insurgents into the security forces.
"We want to make sure the population go about their activities without fear of being attacked or robbed," Omar Hashi, the Minister of Security, told IRIN on 9 April.
The effects will be felt within days, Hashi said, beginning with the reorganisation of the security forces.
"We inherited the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] forces and we are combining them with our own forces [former insurgents]," he said.
A civil society source in Mogadishu, who requested anonymity, told IRIN there was suspicion and mistrust between the former TFG forces and the former insurgents, who now form the backbone of government security forces.
The source said the government had to find a way of integrating the two.
"Only a genuine and effective integration can offer hope of better security to the people of this city," the civil society source said, adding that past attempts to pacify the city had failed because "either they were not genuine or they lacked popular support".
This time, the source said, it may be different. "This government enjoys much more support than any in the past. It is something even those opposed to it have to acknowledge."
Pockets of calm
Hassan Mahamud, a local journalist, said Mogadishu residents were enjoying rare calm.
"The guns, at least the big ones, have been silent for now," he said. "People are returning from the displaced camps and there is hope that things will get better."
However, Mahamud said many residents were nervous the calm may not last if the government's effort at reconciliation with the opposition did not succeed.
Hashi said the government was determined to bring stability back to Mogadishu.
"Mogadishu is our number-one priority," he said. "Our plan is to get full control of the city between 15 to 30 days to allow for the free movement of people."
Hashi said upon reorganising and retraining the security forces, the government would expand its security programmes to other parts of the country.
The announcement comes as elders and religious leaders in the city continue their mediation efforts between the government and insurgents.
"We are in contact with both sides and we are hopeful that we will find a common ground," said Mohamed Hassan Haad, chairman of the Hawiye elders' council.
He said both sides were showing some flexibility that could lead to a breakthrough. "We will continue until we succeed," he added.
This is not the first time a new government has said it would secure Mogadishu. Previous administrations have tried and failed.
The sources said the talks between the government and some insurgent groups were crucial to the plan's success.
Hashi said the government would "make sure the talks succeed and I am sure the other side does not want to prolong the suffering of the population".