MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Opposition-aligned faction of the Somali army announced in a statement issued on Monday that it will not withdraw from areas it had captured in clashes with pro-government forces in Mogadishu last week, despite growing calls for demilitarizing Somalia’s capital.
The army mutineers opposed to an extension of outgoing president’s term in office named a 7-member committee, including former Mogadishu police boss Sadiq John, Indho-adde, former commander of US-trained special forces Ismael Abdimalik and several other prominent military commanders.
They warned the government against suspending their salaries and vowed to remain in their positions until the prime minister takes concrete steps, including firing military and police officials linked to the outgoing president to build trust among the two rival army factions.
It comes just hours after EU ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga called on the disputing sides to “demilitarise Mogadishu”, a week after confrontations racked the strife-torn capital.
“Division of Mogadishu with militias or out-of-line-of-command security forces is not helping Somali people,” EU ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga said.
The rebellious army faction also called on prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to retract statement in which he had described them as “militias” and recognize them as national force that stands for thwarting attempts to steer the country back towards dictatorship.
The military officials also warned the government of targeting their commanders in and outside the capital as tensions that sparked violence last week have yet to be resolved, even as the government asserts that there are ongoing efforts to push for withdrawal of opposition-aligned forces from Mogadishu.
Somali government has not immediately commented on the statement.
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