Somalia: Government gradually takes over capital

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United Nations-backed-Somali government is prepared to reclaim control of the entire country as Al-Shabab rebels continue to lose grounds to African Union troops known by the acronym AMISON. The government now controls more than half of the capital.

According to reports, the government appointed by, the country’s new Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has made substantial progress on security in Mogadishu since November.

Speaking before a news conference at the UN, Information and Telecommunication Minister Abdulkareem Hassan Jama told reporters that:

“Between 70 and 80 percent of the population of the stricken capital are in the government controlled areas(…) But there are vast ghost zones in the areas controlled by the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabab.”

To buttress government control of the country, the UN Security Council is to pass a resolution next week which will allow the AU force in Somalia to be increased from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.

“The extra African troops will be used to further extend government control in the country. There are vast areas of Mogadishu, over 55 percent, which is controlled, along with the AMISON forces, by the Somali army, and the transitional government forces,” Hassan Jama added.

The new transitional government has until August 2011 to deliver a new constitutional framework for the country.

During the holy month of Ramadan Al-Shabab militants violently attacked Somali government and African Union peacekeepers with in a desperate attempt to take over Mogadishu. However, the attack backfired on Al-Shabab badly denting its image and causing serious ramification to its unity.

Intelligence sources reported that Al-Shabab lost around 500 to 700 fighters and approximately 2000 others were wounded in the hands of AU peacekeeping force.

Hizbul Islam which is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is the other opposition force fighting the Somali government which also does not enjoy good relations with Al-Shabab. The two groups are only united in fighting the government and AMISOM peacekeepers in a bid to win Al-Qaeda’s support but have serious differences within themselves that often end up in armed conflict.

Since its formation in Kenya in 2004, the transitional government under president Sharif Ahmed had failed to assert its authority on much of Somalia with al-Shabab controlling 80 per cent of the country – including most of south and central Somalia and a large swath of the capital Mogadishu.

Jama assured the UN Security Council the transitional government were working on improving services.

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