BY JOHN KULEKANA
THE United Nations yesterday urged the international community to increase support to the ongoing military and political initiatives to consolidate unfolding security and concord in Somalia.
“After more than two decades of senseless armed conflict and mayhem in Somalia, the situation has now tremendousy changed in Mogadishu and some other parts of the country,” said UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Dr Augustine Mahiga.
Addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam, Dr Mahiga said Somalia, which was for long branded as a failed state has with the help of African troops scored successes against al Qaidalinked rebels and piracy.
He said the African force with troops from Burundi and Uganda managed to drive Islamic militants out of Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia using simple weapons. “The Burundi and Ugandan troops did a commendable job using light arms against well equipped and heavily financed Islamic militants, who at one time controlled most of the country.
“Kenya later joined the African force, coming in with the Air Force and Navy and the militants suffered heavy blows. They are now still controlling a few pockets in the country,” he explained.
He, however, said to consolidate the achievements more troops, firearms and facilities like trucks, helicopters and military planes were needed. Dr Mahiga said a recent assessment by the African Union (AU) showed that at least 37,000 troops were needed against the current 17,600 from Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.
The UN envoy further said that British Prime Minister David Cameron has convened an international meeting on Somalia in London on May 7, where stakeholders would chart the way forward for the war-torn country. Somalia, a former British protectorate won independence in 1960. Mohamed Siad Barre seized power in 1969 and established the Somali Democratic Republic.
In 1991, Barre’s government collapsed as the Somali Civil War broke out. In the absence of a central government, Somalia degenerated into a failed state until the early 2000s that saw the creation of fledgling interim federal administrations.
In 2011-2012, a Roadmap political process providing clear benchmarks leading toward the establishment of permanent democratic institutions was launched. Dr Mahiga said apart from military support, Somalia badly needed humanitarian support and aid to revive education, health, water supply and rehabilitation of its dilapidated infrastructure.