Hassan Sheikh: We are freeing Somalia from Al-Shabaab in a few weeks

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - At least two states of Somalia are projected to be free from Al-Shabaab militants in a few weeks' time, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said while lauding the significant gains made in liberating the country from the group which has caused social-economic stress to the people of Somalia.

While appearing on Al-Jazeera's Upfront show, Hassan Sheikh maintained that Somalia is no longer a failed state as many people would think, adding that its fragility does not necessarily mean it should be condemned as an unstable country which does not have leadership in place.

"Somalia has gone through a lot," the president said, adding, "from the civil war to now Al-Shabaab challenges. We cannot just say it is a failed state. We have a government in place, we have political reconciliation and many clans are no longer fighting against one another."

"We just had a peaceful transfer of power about six months ago and indication that we are not stagnated, at least we are heading somewhere. This is the spirit and motivation that we all need. We shall eventually become stable just like other countries and this is my focus. "

The president noted that some two states will be completely free from Al-Shabaab in the coming weeks following a systematic operation which has lasted for the last six months. The president did not mention the states but the crackdown has majorly focused on HirShabelle, Southwest and Galmadug states.

According to him, Al-Shabaab has lost ground in several areas and has been squeezed into a few remote villages where they are holed up. He said they are now abducting civilians as a strategy to alienate them from the government which should be giving them services.

" We are talking of the group controlling 80% of the country but that's not the case now. Al-Shabaab is not everywhere as it used to be, they have been effectively tackled and in about two weeks, two states will be completely free from this group. There is no more breeding group for them, they can no longer recruit Somalis, " he said.

Asked about civilian casualties from the airstrikes which are mostly activated by the US Africa Command, the president said they have reduced substantially, adding that precautionary measures are taken by the forces every time the airstrikes are activated across the country.

The president also lauded cooperation from the US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] and the local militia who have sacrificed to ensure the Al-Shabaab threat is significantly reduced in various parts of Somalia, particularly in central and southern regions.

"Of course, you cannot unleash airstrike without killing one or two innocent people but the forces are taking precautions. We haven't had any deaths of civilians in the last six months and this is commendable. We thank the forces for the good work they are doing."

Hassan Sheikh also lauded the international community for chipping in to avert possible famine which would have hit the country. Somalia is yet to receive rain for the last three years leading to severe drought in various parts of the country.

He dismissed claims that over 7 million people are facing possible famine, noting that the help from the international community in terms of food and money is enough to feed millions of people who are facing starvation. Most media houses have been reporting possible famine in Somalia.

"There is no famine at all in Somalia. We managed to avert it after we received support from our international partners. We have enough that can feed our people and we are grateful for this. This was my priority and that is why I appointed an envoy for drought to help us pool resources."

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took over from Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in June this year after gruesome campaigns. The former president handed over peacefully leading to political magnanimity in the Horn of Africa nation, something which showed positive trends of democracy in Africa.

GAROWE ONLINE

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