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Somalia: Opposition leader blasts Farmajo for "blatant" sacking of military generals

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of Wadajir party is outspoken critic of current Somali Government [File Photo]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The frequent changes in the Somalia army could derail efforts to build a formidable force, Wadajir leader Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame has said, in reference to the dismissal of deputy army commander.

Brigadier General Mohamed Ali Barise, who has been holding the post for five months, was unceremoniously kicked out on last Thursday, further causing rifts within the military battling the deadliest extremist group in Africa, Al-Shabaab.

According to the state-run media, Barise was sacked over "Al-Shabaab raid in El-Salini military base" where over 20 SNA soldiers were killed last week following a pre-dawn Al-Shabaab attack.

The Wednesday's twin attack at El-Salini and Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region, was the major raid again SNA - Somali National Army in as many months, although it also leftover 25 militants dead, officials said.

But in a veiled attack, Mr. Abdishakur poked holes into the "blatant" sacking of military generals, arguing that "it's not healthy" to the military.

He said: “It is [the] the sixth time the President has made changes to the leadership of the Army. It’s not right to regularly change the leadership of the army or politicize it".

According to him, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo should "show leadership" as a strong indication of supporting their battle against Al-Shabaab militants.

"The army needs to be shown leadership and be visited at the front line, to be encouraged and rewarded for their sacrifices,” added Abdishakur, who is also the Wadajir party leader.

Mr. Barise, who was appointed for the position in October 2019, joins the list of several of his predecessors, who have been evicted from the military unceremoniously.

President Farmajo has been effecting the changes, in what he has described as "restructuring the forces" to meet the international standards, but, the opposition has condemned the move as a pretext to hide the "security failure".

Last year, Farmajo also appointed Gen. Yusuf Rageh Odawaa, 33, as the Chief of General Staff, the youngest soldier to hold the post in the country's history.

But contrary to sacking claims, Barise claimed that he had voluntarily opted out of the military before the Wednesday's raids, arguing that "I'd tendered resignation".

He said: "I handed over my resignation letter two days ago, I don't know why Villa Somalia is purporting to sack me through Facebook and Twitter without responding to my letter".

However, his claims couldn't be independently verified, although he added that "I quit due to politicization of the military forces".

Throughout decades, Somalia has been restructuring her military, amid claims of rampant corruption targeting donor funds meant to improve their military's ability, US said.

Currently, the number of SNA soldiers is yet to be established, even as the US and Turkey intensify training programs for the soldiers.

Over 22,000 AU forces from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, and Ethiopia have been supporting the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, which is also battling the Al-Shabaab threat.