Somali national army formed to take over when KDF leave
The international community has put together a 20,000-strong Somali national army, which is expected to take over the fight against Al Shabaab when the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) eventually leave.
Outgoing special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Somalia Nicholas Kay, said the force, which includes a police wing, will take over from Amison to not only help fight the Al Shabaab militants but also ensure they do not recover territory they had lost by the KDF under Amison.
“Amison is not going to be in Somalia forever, so this army and police force is expected to take over and maintain general order once the troops leave Somalia,” he said.
The envoy was speaking as he wound up his two and a half year tenure overseeing an international effort led by the United Nations, to stabilise Somalia, with the US and the United Kingdom, among the lead contributors to the security and political efforts to ensure the war torn country regains stability.
He expressed optimism and hope that Somalia was on the path towards stability, saying next year will be particularly momentous in ensuring that ground covered in building institutions is not lost and that such gains are consolidated to give the fragile state a firmer standing.
The British diplomat said however, economic recovery remained the most wanting issue, saying the country with 70 per cent of the Somalis under the age of 35 years, had 80 per cent of them unemployed.
“On the economic recovery side there has been less progress and as we go into 2016, the focus should be more on job creating opportunities,” he said.
He said for there to be economic growth, there was need to ensure peace was sustained, saying the security situation remained vulnerable, as few regions were still under the control of Al Shabaab, even as efforts by Amison to take back the regions from the terror group have been scaled up.
Much of the economic activity, according to the outgoing envoy, were private sector based, responsible for growth in the agricultural sector, which contributed to exports of about 5 million livestock last year.
However, lack of roads, electricity among other infrastructure meant that a lot more was yet to be done to improve the economic fortunes of the locals.
The high number of unemployed youth, he said, was a ticking time bomb, as this provided fertile ground for Al Shabaab recruitment, hence the urgency to build infrastructure and create jobs.
For this to be achieved, Mr Kay said development efforts by international partners including the US, UK, the European Union and the African Union (AU) required to be strengthened in 2016, saying all parties could not afford to relent when the progress made so far needed to be consolidated.
“Somalia has moved from a failed state to a fragile one, and I am happy to note during the end of my tour of duty, most of the rebuilding is being done by the Somalis themselves,” he said.
On the political front, five federal governments, with their national assemblies which report to the central government of Somalia, were in place, with further progress expected from regional elections in 2016.
Mr Kay was speaking during an interview with the Nation in Nairobi, as he prepared to return to the UN headquarters for further deployment as the Somalia government awaits for his successor to be appointed.