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Al-Shebab a spent force, says Somalia's Deputy PM

media Mogadishu residents flee a Shebab attack last year AFP/Abdurashid ABDULLE

Somalia's Shebab rebels are "a spent force", Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Omaar has told RFI in an interview at the 17th African Union (AU) summit in Malabo. Omaar promises a new president will be elected next year and insists that government forces will win territorial control.

Mohamed Omaar, Somalia's Deputy PM 02/07/2011 - by Daniel Finnan Listen

What discussions are you having on Somalia?

We have got very good momentum and progress on the security side given the level of the defeats suffered by Al-Shebab, the territories that have been liberated. The issue that is current is really one of implementation. A new prime minister was designated and nominated by the president and was confirmed overwhelming, and we have a year to implement transitional tasks that will see us come out of a transitional phase and into a permanent government situation.

Those issues cover reform of parliament, completion of the constitutional process, taking on further the issue of the security and liberation of territories. But also issues of governance: accountability, transparency, political space and cooperation with the regions, Puntland, Galmudug and perhaps Somaliland. Those are the issues that need to be tackled head-on, so that we can have, in July and August next year, a proper formal election that will bring in a new president, a new speaker, on the basis of a reformed parliament.

Last year the mandate of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) was up. But then you extended it further in order to continue the reforms you’ve been talking of. Do you think a year is enough?

I believe it is. I think in terms of the security sector. I think a year is more than good enough to achieve, if not full progress, at least a very substantial level of progress, to liberate territories that are concerned with Al-Shebab.

What is indicative is that in six months, a four-month period, the psychological position and dominance of Al-Shebab has been fully broken. They have suffered major physical defeats, but more important is really the fact that Al-Shebab is now ideologically and programmatically a spent force.

There is nothing that they have to offer the people of Somalia, let alone the world.

Having achieved that, our task is to complete the process of ridding them of territorial control. Our alliances with Amisom [African Union Mission in Somalia], and particularly the forces of Uganda and Burundi, are a key factor in this. As well as the support of the international community, whether it’s the support of the EU, whether it’s the US, whether it’s the African Union, or the Arab countries for that matter. But the objective of all this is singular, it is one issue. We need to reestablish, the central Somali state. Everything that happens, whether it is humanitarian, whether it is an issue of security training, whether it is an issue of governance, whether it is an issue of diplomatic affairs. Everything has to be geared to empower and reestablish the central Somali state.

Considering what you’ve said about the single Somali state – what about the status of Somaliland, which for a long time has been pushing for independence and in comparison some might say has been relatively stable?

Well, first and foremost, there is no doubt that Somaliland, as an area and as an administration, has achieved a very enviable level of stability, a very enviable level of peace. I always make the point that the recent elections that were held in June/July last year in Somaliland were exemplary.

They are proof that Somali people are capable of achieving and competing with the rest of the world when they put their minds to it and when they use their own skills. That is not in question.

As regards to the issue of independence, that is an issue that is not on, in our view. Somaliland has a position, the TFG is not engaged in that at present.

We are dealing with other issues that are more immediate. And at the end of the day it is not an issue for me or for other people, it is for the population of Somaliland, Somalis as a whole, to reach a consensus of their own free will as to how they move. Whether they move separately or whether they move together. But in the end I think Somalis, wherever they are and whatever the mechanics, Somalis will always be Somalis. At the end of the day we’re all one.

But as I say, the issue of independence or not independence, is not an issue for me. It is an issue that is in the public arena. We are exceptionally proud, all Somalis are proud, of what has been established and achieved in Somaliland and I believe it is a moral that is not only beneficial to the rest of Somalia. But in many respects, to many other countries as well.

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