Al-Shabaab is on the back foot - PM Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed
Addis Ababa, 4 July 2014 (WIC) - Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed talks to The Africa Report about the international fight against Somali-based Islamist rebels and the government's difficulties in re-establishing stability.
"The first thing is we need to have improved security for the citizens of Somalia," Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed says.
He sits erect and still in a straight-backed chair. He remains serious throughout the conversation, Abdiweli's first meeting with a member of the foreign press since he became prime minister of Somalia in December 2013.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appointed Abdiweli after his predecessor, Abdi Farah Shirdon, lost a vote of no confidence in parliament as a result of a dispute with the president over appointments to the cabinet.
An economist by training, Abdiweli is a political neophyte, but he pipped two seasoned politicians – finance minister Hussein Abdi Halane and former transport minister Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh – to the job.
Citing his "impressive background in development and economics" – Abdiweli worked at the Islamic Development Bank and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – Hassan Sheikh expressed confidence in his new prime minister, saying that he is "the man best equipped to lead the Somali government through the next stage of our country's recovery and reform programme".
Abdiweli considers the recent African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia offensive to have been "quite successful".
Since the beginning of March, Ethiopian troops – now part of the AU mission – and members of the Somali National Army (SNA) captured at least 10 towns from Al-Shabaab forces.
New injection of troops
"Al-Shabaab is on the back foot, running for their lives," Abdiweli insists. "They will soon be disbanded. We are not saying that they will disappear for entirety, indeed they are capable of posing threats, but we will not stop going after them until we've finished them." He puts this success, which came after almost a year of stand- still, down to the new injection of troops into the AU force. (www.theafricareport.com)
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