By Paddy Ankunda
Many like Safi a Omar, a resident of Mogadishu will tell you that bombing Somalia’s national theatre on April 4, had robbed her country of a brief sense that things were getting better.
Safi a vented out her frustration in a brief interview with Reuters hours after a suicide bomber killed six people in Mogadishu. This kind of frustration is understandable. Safi a, like many other Somalis, is not confident that the current government will deliver on its promises to restore durable peace and stability.
For those of us who work in Mogadishu and have seen progressively, the improving situation in the country since 2007 can only ask Safi a for more patience. Mogadishu is more peaceful today than it has been in the last 20 years.
However, such attacks are a reminder to the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM that it is not over yet. While the insurgents were forced out of Mogadishu last August, a number of them melted into the population bent on instilling fear through suicide attacks.
This calls for extra vigilance not only on the part of the government but also on the population as a whole.
Not once, not twice, the terrorists have demonstrated their ability to sneak through the lines and attack civilians in areas under our control.
This calls for a rethinking of our internal security strategies in liberated areas. That they were forced out of Mogadishu was a clear demonstration by Allied forces that Al Shabaab can be defeated and this momentum must not be lost. President Sheikh Sharif rightly stated that the group’s increasing recourse to suicide attacks was a sign of their growing weakness.
While this may be true, attacks on innocent civilians are also a test of the government’s ability to protect its people.
As AMISOM continues to expand into the countryside, the government must continue to demonstrate its capacity to protect civilians in towns and villages. That way, civilians will gain confidence in the government’s resolve to change the course of history.
Already, AMISOM has deployed 100 soldiers to Baidoa, the advance party of the 2,500 soldiers expected to be deployed by April.
AMISOM’s Kenyan troops are deployed in the south; and this expansion is expected to deliver more military success. As such, time has come for the Somali government to integrate military objectives into an overall political strategy.
The writer is the AMISOM Force spokesman in Mogadishu