The next big mission in Kismayu
The head of the interim administration in the Somali port town of Kismayu has called for urgent establishment of a permanent local administration to consolidate security gains that Kenyan Defences Force and its Somali allies have won dearly in the last few months after driving Al Shabaab fighters out of the port city.
In an interview with The Standard On Sunday, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam said residents now badly need an administration to work towards solving the myriad problems facing their city that for years was ruled by predatory warlords whose interests were only to rob residents and loot resources.
“The security of the city is good. The biggest problem is how to solve the city’s politics,” said Islam, who is best known as Ahmed Madobe.
He urged clan representatives from the region to urgently convene a meeting to elect leaders capable of tackling security, social, economic and political problems in the city because the interim administration was “willing to hand over power when needed”.
“The people are suffering. There is little or no farming or fishing going on in the city. There is no humanitarian assistance from the international community,” said Islam, noting that the city has unreliable electricity and water supply.
Kenyan troops and their Somali allies entered Kismayu on October 1, last year, after an assault on the city that was Al Shabaab’s last bastion in southern Somalia. Although it is generally safe, Al Shabaab militants, who are just 20km away, have carried out low level grenade attacks and targeted killings that according to Islam have helped drive residents into the arms of the new administrators.
Islam, who was a former member of the defunct moderate Islamic Courts Union (ICU), said his background has helped him identify Al Shabaab fighters and minimise dangers they pose to the city. The ICU ruled the capital city, Mogadishu, and much of south-central Somali for six months in 2006.
They were routed from power when Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia in late 2006 and early 2007. “Al Shabaab’s message is not based on Islam. It is misguided ideology. They are driving people away from their religion,” he said.
Before they formed their group in 2007, Al Shabaab members were part of ICU.
Al Shabaab, which means the youth in Arabic, joined al-Qaeda early last year.
Demise of Al Shabaab
Islam accused Al Shabaab members — also called as Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen — of killing civilians outside mosques, saying: “People are at the greatest risk when going or leaving the mosque”.
He said he believed that the group’s time is up because of factors like unpopularity, infighting and financial constraints.
“The biggest reason for their demise was because they lost favour with the public. No group can exist without the public. It is like a fish that cannot survive without water,” he said. The port city has changed hands since the early 1990s, and its residents had known little peace or development as each new ruler misused the seaport’s revenue.
Islam said he was hopeful new rulers will emerge in Kismayu because, “when we, the current rulers, say ‘let the local people meet and elect their leaders,’ then a big hurdle has been removed.”
Residents of three regions in southern Somalia — Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo — have complained about interference in their affairs by the Somali government.
The three regions are planning to set up their own, Kismayu with headquarters in Jubbaland that wants to run its affairs away from Mogadishu’s directive.
THE STANDARD DIGITAL