Mogadishu – The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Daud Aweis, and the SRCC and Head of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef, have jointly reiterated the commitment of the FGS and ATMIS to pursuing joint military collaboration in the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab in south and central Somalia.
They both also agreed to work closely in peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts at the federal and community levels.
At a joint press conference on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and ATMIS SRCC announced that ongoing military operation against Al-Shabab has registered significant gains in the Federal Member States of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Southwest, Jubaland and Mogadishu.
“The success clearly demonstrates the close collaboration between our forces and the local residents. In general the number of Al-Shabab Kharijites killed in the country in the last seven days is 323,” said Minister Aweis.
The Federal Government and ATMIS noted that the collaboration of the local population and the Somali Security Forces have helped liberate a number of locations including El Dher, Harar Dhere and Gal’ad in Galmudug State.
“The Al-Shabaab terrorists have been controlling these areas for more than 15 years, but that has however come to an end,” Minister Aweis emphasised.
To counter Al Shabab propaganda, he said, the Government Communication Office (GCO) has been established to align all communications against the terrorists and raise awareness about their evil deeds.
Ambassador Souef reiterated ATMIS’ continued support to the Somali Security Forces in the ongoing military operations against Al-Shabab.
“ATMIS is supporting the ongoing operations in terms of logistics. We are using our air assets, our enablers to provide air support and also provide medical evacuation at the frontline,” said the Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Souef.
He saluted the political will demonstrated by the national leaders led by the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is directly involved in the ongoing Somali-led operations against Al-Shabaab and continues to visit the frontline.
The two senior officials also welcomed the groundswell of opposition against Al-Shabaab, and the support the Somali National Army (SNA) is receiving from the local communities, which has made possible the liberation of territories under Al-Shabaab control.
“Somalis feel that their number one enemy is Al-Shabaab. and that is why the SNA is getting a lot of support from the people who are on the ground and the Federal Member States,” Ambassador Souef observed.
In the ongoing reconciliation efforts, ATMIS and the Federal Government of Somalia agreed to continue supporting the National Consultative Council, which brings together leaders of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States. The council is expected to hold its next meeting in February.
The two senior officials hailed President Hassan Sheikh for spearheading reconciliation efforts between rival political leaders in Southwest state.
“President Hassan Sheikh has said that one of his top priorities is national reconciliation and we commend him for his actions in Baidoa. This is a strong message that the President is sending to both local and the international communities,” said Ambassador Souef.
ATMIS is providing security for the ongoing reconciliation talks in Southwest’s capital, Baidoa. The talks involve officials from both the Federal and State government, clan elders and members of the civil society.
The Federal Government of Somalia and ATMIS also resolved to strengthen collaboration in the areas of military training and intelligence sharing to ensure the transition process is successful.