So­ma­lia hosts Africa sum­mit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

MOGADISHU — So­ma­lia hosted re­gional African heads of state yes­ter­day for a sum­mit that was the first of its kind in the So­mali cap­i­tal since the Horn of Africa na­tion plunged into con­flict in 1991.

Streets were shut down to traf­fic in Mogadishu, which reg­u­larly faces at­tacks from the Is­lamist al Shabaab mil­i­tants, for the one-day meet­ing of IGAD, a group­ing that in­cludes Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Dji­bouti, Su­dan, Uganda and So­ma­lia.

The re­gional lead­ers were due to dis­cuss So­ma­lia’s up­com­ing vote for a new par­lia­ment and pres­i­dent, as well the sit­u­a­tion in South Su­dan, where fight­ing in July has fur­ther desta­bilised the five-yearold na­tion.

The pres­i­dents of Kenya and Dji­bouti, and the prime min­is­ter of Ethiopia, were in Mogadishu for the sum­mit, of­fi­cials said. Uganda was rep­re­sented by a min­is­ter at the meet­ing of IGAD, or the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Author­ity on De­vel­op­ment.

“It sym­bol­ises the re­con­struc­tion of So­ma­lia and So­ma­lia com­ing back to the (fam­ily of) na­tions,” For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­dusalam Omer told Reuters as heads of state flew in. “It sig­ni­fies that we are de­feat­ing in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism.”

So­ma­lia has hosted vis­its of in­di­vid­ual heads of state. But Omer said this was the first sum­mit gath­er­ing for about four decades, since the rule of Pres­i­dent Siad Barre, whose top­pling in 1991 was fol­lowed by two decades of con­flict.

Many se­nior vis­i­tors to Mogadishu stay in the air­port area, a com­pound sur­rounded by high blast walls with barbed wire and pa­trolled by the African Union Ami­som force. Tues­day’s sum­mit was be­ing held just out­side the perime­ter at a nearby ho­tel.

“The pres­ence of the heads of state in So­ma­lia is a clear dividend of re­turn­ing sta­bil­ity in the coun­try,” Ami­som said in a state­ment.

Or­di­nary So­ma­lis were forced to walk around the cap­i­tal as traf­fic was blocked from many streets.

Al Shabaab has of­ten used ve­hi­cles packed with ex­plo­sives to launch at­tacks on sites in Mogadishu, blow­ing up se­cu­rity posts so fight­ers can storm in.

Mogadishu still bears the scars of war, with many build­ings lit­tle more than bombed out shells. But there has been a con­struc­tion boom in re­cent years, that has seen new build­ings erected, of­ten fi­nanced by So­ma­lis re­turn­ing from abroad. — News24

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