SOMALIA, Kismayo — Soldiers serving with the Kenyan Contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) stand infront of a mosque in the grounds of Kismayo University in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo, approx. 500km south of the country’s capital Mogadishu. AU-UN IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE
NAIROBI — Kenyan troops in the UN-backed Africa Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said on Wednesday that relative peace is steadily returning to the port city of Kismayo once the bastion of Al-Shabaab.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said more militants are still surrendering to AMISOM forces as the troops mull ways of setting up an inclusive administration that will run the port city.
“The security situation in Kismayo is steadily improving with more militants surrendering to AMISOM forces,” Oguna said.
“Movement in and out of the town continues to be monitored at control points erected outside the town,” he added.
The port city of Kismayo, Al-Shabaab’s only remaining stronghold, was captured by Kenyan soldiers and other allied forces on Sept. 28 after a spirited gunfire between the insurgents and AMISOM forces.
The militant group has also come under pressure from soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone who recently pushed them out of the outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu and other key regions they used to control two years ago.
Analysts said the loss of the seaport is a major blow to the Al- Shabaab who once extorted much of their revenue from traders and businesses utilizing the facility.
Kismayo, with a population of about 200,000 people, is the third largest city of Somalia which is considered the hub of the militant group which formally merged with the dreaded global terror network, the al Qaida, after several years of pledging loyalty and ideological similarities.
Oguna said KDF, Somali National Army (SNA) and Raskamboni Brigade held a meeting on Wednesday to mull the way forward on Kismayo administration. According to Oguna, the meeting resolved for establishment of a two tier administration.
“In that, tier One will comprise of the chair, his deputy and 10 assistants,” Oguna said.
Two of the 10 assistants will be in charge of a department, he said, adding the departments including security, economics, justice, social and relief.
Oguna said the tier Two will comprise of working parties, each having five personnel in the departments of security, economic, justice, social and relief, bringing the working number to 25.
“It was unanimously agreed that leadership would be rotational after 20 days,” said Oguna as the AMISOM and SNA continue with their pacification of the Horn of Africa nation.
He said the meeting further agreed the findings of the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting taking place in Nairobi will supersede any arrangements that may be existing in Kismayo presently.
“The working parties will be meeting every alternate day to brief the committee on the situation progress,” Oguna said.
Kenya blames Al-Shabaab for the kidnappings of foreigners, and fears its tourist andbusiness economy will be destroyed if it allows the insurgents to go on unchallenged.
Kenya has appealed to Somalis and those in the Diaspora to embrace peace, say no to agents of terror and prepare for the hard work of national reconstruction.
Kenya has also put security in key towns on a high alert following Kenya’s military operations in Somalia which sparked threats from the Al-Shabaab group that it will retaliate deep in Kenya.