The Somali Army will be able to replace the African Union forces, which are expected to leave the country at the end of 2024, assured, on Sunday, the Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, who considered the results obtained with the offensive, currently on pause, against the Islamic radicals of Al-Shabab.
Launched in August 2022, in the center of the country, this offensive against the al-Qaeda-affiliated group, which has been leading an insurgency against the Somali authorities for 16 years, has made notable progress, but has stagnated in recent months.
The Somali Army, associated with clan militias, benefited from the support of African Union forces (Atmis) to retake large areas of territory, particularly in the center of the country. Atmis, made up of troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, was supposed to begin a second phase of withdrawal in September, with the departure of 3,000 soldiers, but the Somali government requested and received a three-month delay.
“It coincided with a time when we had some setbacks and difficulties in reorganizing ourselves”, acknowledged Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, quoted by Efe, at a conference in London, organized by the Think Tank Royal United Services Institute.
“But now we are ready. We can take power in December”, he added, specifying that this withdrawal also concerned the security of the Somali Presidency. Asked about possible new deadlines that his Government could ask for until the end of 2024, he guaranteed that “we won’t do it”, with the country in the process of filling the lack of trained military personnel.
“We are in a better situation than before and in 2024, as long as the phased withdrawal continues, we will also create more forces. We are very confident that we will be able to take responsibility for the country’s security,” insisted President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, who was in London to participate in a Summit on global food security.
Supported by the international community, the Government mainly controls cities, including the capital Mogadishu. Al-Shabab remains established in large areas of the south and center of the country.