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Opposition’s efforts to topple Somali Government must not succeed – Ban

Opposition’s efforts to topple Somali Government must not succeed – Ban

Al-Shabaab militiamen in southern Somalia
Repeated attempts to overthrow Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) are a source of deep concern, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report, calling on the international community to continue its support for the struggling Horn of Africa nation.

The spike in attacks by insurgents comes “at a time when the Government is making concrete progress towards fulfilling its transitional agenda, which the population has increasingly welcomed,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the situation in Somalia.

“The attempts by elements opposed to peace and stability to seize power by force from the legally constituted and internationally recognized Government must not be allowed to succeed,” he said, adding that the authorities must be enabled to “exercise its authority countrywide for the sake of the Somali people.”

Insurgent groups, such as Al-Shabaab, have stepped up their strategy to intimidate the Somali people, including through methods such as “high gain” assassinations and arrests of clan elders, some of whom have been murdered.

On 19 June, Omar Hashi Aden, the Minister of National Security, was killed in a large-scale suicide car bombing in Beletweyne in central Somalia.

Additionally, Somali militants raided two UN compounds on Monday, stealing equipment and vehicles and forcing the world body to close down one of its operations in the violence-wracked country.

In spite of the violence, the Secretary-General commended efforts by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the unity government to engage with opposition groups not taking part in the Djibouti peace process.

“However, these engagements have proved to be challenging owing to the inflexibility on the part of hardline insurgents,” he noted.

But despite such setbacks, he said that “the Government has continuously reiterated its readiness to broaden its base by including those opposition groups that renounce violence.”

Mr. Ban appealed to the international community not to back down on its support for Somalia in the face of the recent uptick in fighting, urging the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) to press ahead with encouraging opposition groups to work towards peace in Somalia.

He also called on Member States to support the boosting of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) so that it can reach its authorized troop strength of 8,000.

“For the Government to increase its legitimacy and to broaden its base, we must invest in building the capacity of the security institutions and improve its capability to deliver public services and employment opportunities,” the report noted.

Further, increasing employment opportunities for youth and enhancing the livelihoods of Somalis will also have “a positive impact on the hearts and minds of ordinary Somalis,” it said.

The recent escalation in violence has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in the country, the Secretary-General wrote, paying tribute to aid workers operating under an ever-more hostile environment.

“Their sacrifices to save Somali victims do not go unnoticed,” he underscored.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 200,000 people have fled the capital, Mogadishu, since early May, when the Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam militant groups launched attacks against Government forces in the capital. In the past fortnight alone, about 20,000 people have fled their homes.

The newly displaced join another 400,000 Somalis in the Afgooye corridor, a congested strip of land that runs southwest from Mogadishu and is packed with makeshift shelters.

“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict in Somalia,” Mr. Ban wrote in the report. “It is imperative that all measures be taken to protect the civilians, in particular, the most vulnerable.”

On the issue of piracy off Somalia’s coast, Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to all nations and regional organizations which have ensured that UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UN-contracted ships are able to deliver vital humanitarian aid to Somalia, and he also urged other countries to join in the effort.

The world body will also help with the prosecution of the pirates while simultaneously enhancing Somalia’s coast guard and judicial system, he said.