Somalia’s security forces need rebuilding to cement gains made by foreign troops against Islamist militants, but how to pay and arm recruits, tackle corruption and prevent rebels infiltrating their ranks remain hurdles for the cash-strapped government.
Proving the dire state of the Somali forces, when Islamist gunmen attacked a court in Mogadishu in April, police said they couldn’t tell who was friend or foe, while members of the force say a $100-a-month salary is not enough to inspire loyalty.
“Shoe shiners have a better life,” said a junior police officer, who only gave his name as Hussein. “They are not targets and they get a better income.”
Emerging from two decades of anarchy, security gains in the past two years have been made largely thanks to African peacekeepers spearheading the fight against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels.
Western powers, long worried Somalia is a launch pad for militant Islam in east Africa and beyond, fear the nation could slide back into chaos if local forces cannot cement gains.
How to overhaul its security forces will top the agenda at a May 7 conference in London, where Britain and Somalia will seek more international support at a time al Shabaab are weakened and piracy off the Horn of Africa is at an all-time low.
A threat by Ethiopian troops to withdraw from Somalia has raised questions over how the stretched African Union peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM, would be able to plug the gap and highlighted the need for Somalia to build its own capacities.
“Somali armed forces need building up, their police need expanding,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters when he re-opened Britain’s embassy in Mogadishu.
“There are many huge challenges and dangers that remain and the world mustn’t think that we have solved all the problems or that its help isn’t needed,” he said. Washington and Brussels already help pay African troops and Somalia’s forces.
Hague said Britain’s permanent diplomatic presence signaled London’s confidence, although the makeshift embassy’s four metal cabins lie behind two blast walls within the fortified airport.
Elected in September, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said security was “priority number one, two and three”.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر