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African leaders agree on operational strategy to fight al-Shabab in Somalia


In this Feb. 13, 2012 file photo, an armed member of the militant group al-Shabaab attends a rally in support of the merger of the Somali militant group al-Shabab with al-Qaida, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. [AP]

Four African leaders on Wednesday resolved to jointly plan a decisive operational strategy against al-Shabab and mobilize regional support for timely, decisive operations against the extremists in Somalia.

Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia, William Ruto of Kenya, Djibouti's Ismail Omar Guelleh and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali said well-equipped security personnel is in a better position to fight the al-Shabab extremists.

In a communique issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, after a day-long summit, the leaders said that they have decided to establish a joint operations mechanism that coordinates the operations' holistic capabilities and multipliers to deter and defeat the enemy.

They appealed to the international community to repeal the existing United Nations arms embargo in Somalia, allowing the Somali government to better equip its military in the fight against terrorism.

They said that Somalia had shown the ability to manage arms proliferation within their borders and lauded the advancement made in developing capabilities in managing weapons and ammunition regimes and endorsed Somalia's quest to completely lift the arms embargo by the end of 2023.

The UN Security Council imposed an open-ended arms embargo on Somalia in January 1992 before it was partially amended in February 2007 to allow arms supplies to Somali government forces.

The leaders welcomed the request by the Somali government to obtain both lethal and non-lethal support to equip the newly-generated Somali National Army (SNA) units and to enhance the firepower capabilities of current SNA operational units.

"The summit agrees to make the final push for joint operations in the areas that remain under the terrorists to completely liberate the whole of Somalia from al-Shabab to facilitate the drawdown of ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) troops and the gradual handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces," it said.

The leaders emphasized the need to consolidate and build upon the existing Somali Transition Plan (STP)/troop-contributing countries (TCC) efforts in Somali and agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign at the frontline states level targeting key strategic al-Shabab strongholds across the south and central Somalia.

The presidents mainly from the frontline states said time-sensitive campaigns will prevent any future infiltrating elements into the wider region.

President Mohamud who took power in May 2022 has launched a major offensive against the Shabab militants that has seen parts of Somalia liberated from the terrorists.

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