Degrading Al-Shabaab is a key mandate of AMISOM
The 28th extra-ordinary session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Assembly of Heads of State and Government concluded in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Tuesday evening, with a declaration of renewed commitment by its member countries to continue support towards stabilizing the nation and endorsement of an upcoming electoral process.
The high-profile meeting was attended by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the chairperson of the IGAD Assembly, Kenya's President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Djibouti, Mohamed Yousif Abdelmannan and Sudan's ambassador to Somalia Mahboub Mohamed Maalim.
In a communique released at the end of the one-day summit, IGAD Heads of State and governments welcomed the Somali government's commitment to a credible and inclusive electoral process.
"(We) encouraged all Somalis to participate in the 2016 electoral process and hope that free and fair elections are conducted within the timelines," the communique stated.
The IGAD heads requested the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to provide "all necessary security" for the electoral process, which will culminate in a presidential vote on 30th October 2016.
The summit condemned continued attacks against the civilian population by the terrorist group Al-Shabaab and urged Somali security forces and AMISOM, to expand their operations, to enable them deal with the group's "evolving terror threats".
Degrading Al-Shabaab is a key mandate of AMISOM, which together with the Somali security forces have pushed out the militants from all the country's major towns.
The joint forces continue with military operations to flush Al-Shabaab from pockets of territory it still occupies in Gedo, lower Juba and middle Shabelle regions.
The statesmen appreciated the role international partners are playing in providing financial, material and technical assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia.
Somalia's refugee situation was also discussed during the session. The leaders agreed to convene a special summit on durable solutions and the effective reintegration of returnees.
The AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira attended the summit, as did the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) for Somalia Raisedon Zenenga.
"The presence of the Heads of State in Somalia is a clear dividend of returning stability in the country. It is an endorsement of Somalia's recovery and a testimony of the resolve of the Somali people to imbibe a culture that promotes peace instead of conflict. As AMISOM, we will continue to work hand in hand with the Somali security forces to sustain the prevailing peace," Ambassador Madeira said, in a statement issued Tuesday.