Can local muscle defeat Somalia’s al Shabaab?
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.