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Somalia Government Celebrates One Year in Office Friday

Peter Clottey | Washington, DC 28 January 2010

A Somali official says President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government will be celebrating its first year in office Friday.

Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, minister of planning and international cooperation, said the transitional government has been successful in resisting attempts by hard line Islamic insurgents to overthrow the administration.

“Today we are celebrating and we can say we have achieved a lot, and we are still facing huge challenge to counter it. We defend ourselves against al-Shabab and militias supported by international terrorists. They tried to overthrow the government and we are now planning to undertake a security operation next week,” he said.

Last year, Somali lawmakers elected the former chief of the Islamic Courts Union as president, a move aimed to end years of political instability.

The President Sharif Ahmed-led government is currently battling hard line Islamic insurgents including al-Shabab who have vowed to overthrow the government.

Washington has categorized al-Shabab as a terrorist organization with strong links to Al Qaeda.

Warsame said the government is determined to provide adequate security to Somalis.

“The expectation is to handle the security of the country, particularly the capital city of Mogadishu. And that is what we are now planning. In the next few weeks we (will) be in a position to say that we will undertake the security operation in the capital. We will kick out the al-Shabab and its allies of Hizbul Islam from the capital. And we will soon put in place law and order in the city and police forces will be in place to protect the civilians,” Warsame said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted Thursday to extend for another year the mandate of the African Union Peacekeeping Force in Somalia (AMISOM). It was set to expire this Sunday.

Warsame said there is need for the international community to keep its financial pledge to Somalia.

“We have moral and political support from the international community but I have to say that we haven’t realized the much resource we need from the international community and we are still expecting (them)&hellipthere were big meetings in London both on Yemen and Afghanistan. We are looking for the scale of that conference to be held for Somalis,” Warsame said.

Prior to President Sharif Ahmed’s election, political observers have noted that Somalia had been without an effective government since the overthrow of long-time President Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

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