Can lo­cal mus­cle de­feat So­ma­lia’s al Shabaab?

The Star (Kenya) - - News World -

The newly trained, freshly equipped So­mali po­lice of­fi­cers kick up clouds of dust as they goose-step around the pa­rade ground in time to the march­ing band drums.

Six hun­dred mem­bers of Juba­land state’s po­lice force have re­cently grad­u­ated, hun­dreds more will soon go through train­ing and, for the time be­ing, their ef­forts have brought security to the streets of Kis­mayo.

The port city in So­ma­lia’s south­ern-most state has man­aged to avoid the high-pro­file sui­cide car bomb­ings and armed as­saults on ho­tels that the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu, reg­u­larly suf­fers.

The head of the re­gional security force is con­fi­dent they are keep­ing al Shabaab out of town.

“Juba­land is one of the most peace­ful places in So­ma­lia,” says Brig Gen Aden Koo­jaar, com­man­der of Juba­land Forces. “The area con­trolled by the Juba­land ad­min­is­tra­tion is a place where peo­ple sleep peace­fully day and night, and there’s no prob­lem at all.” Thou­sands of troops from Kenya, Ethiopia, Bu­rundi, Dji­bouti and Uganda help pro­vide mil­i­tary mus­cle so So­ma­lia can try to build a fed­eral state.

De­spite the con­tin­u­ing al Shabaab in­sur­gency and com­pli­cated clan pol­i­tics, vot­ing has fi­nally started in the de­layed elec­tions for the lower house.

Across the coun­try around 14,000 del­e­gates se­lected by clan el­ders are vot­ing for 275 MPs. A pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will fol­low and an up­per house is also be­ing formed.

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