The African Union Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Ethiopian Defence Forces will stay in Somalia for an unspecified period.
“The Ethiopian Defence Force trains our security officers. The Somali Armed Forces are fighting side by side with AMISOM and the Ethiopian Defence Forces in the ongoing clash against the Al Shabab who are now largely on the run,” the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said during a press conference at the national palace on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
The largest gang that continues to wreak havoc in Somalia, Al Shabab, was chased out of the port town of Kismayu, in recent mop-up operations. “Our challenge now is how to implement a new legal system as opposed to the previous highly centralized government. Somalia has adopted a federal system based on the federal constitution. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, so we are now working to empower the local people to administer themselves as per the federal constitution,” the President said. The history of Somalia statehood, after independence, informs us that there has always been a highly centralized Government.
When he was asked about the timetable for the departure of the African forces, the President didn’t openly set the date. “When the right time comes, they will depart,” he replied.
“The Ethiopian Defence Force is in Somalia to support the peace process. We are waiting for AMISOM to replace us. When we are replaced, we will pull our forces back immediately. But until we get that assurance we will remain there. We have to be sure that Al Shabab will never come back to that place again,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn said.
Asked about the situation Al Shabab is in, the President of Somalia replied that they are being defeated on the battlefield, one by one. “What we have learned from the past is that, when they faced this kind of heavy defeat, they melt away hiding within the Somali society and take time to reorganize themselves. This time, we have to carefully organize ourselves and be alert to respond before they get reorganized,” Mohamud said.
There was a reconciliation conference that took place in Addis Ababa in 1993. This process is still going on with the support of the Ethiopian government and the United Nations up to now. “We are trying to incorporate all concerned groups who wish to work together and accept the constitution and the new federal system. Negotiations will continue until we achieve that,” he said.
The President added, “In our joint ministerial meeting this morning we have discussed, apart from security and peace building, there is a window of opportunity for Somalia to form a stable country with the support of Ethiopia. The parliament is in place, a new president has been elected and an effective cabinet is in place. Ethiopia will assist us a lot in this administration building process. Plus, we want to take heed of the big lesson learned from the Ethiopian federal system, which has been working effectively for the last 20 years or so.”
PM Hailemariam on his part said that the Ethiopian government is ready to help the government of Somalia, particularly in training Somali officers, who are the backbone of peace and security and for the stability of Somalia.