AU to Deploy More Peacekeepers to Somalia’s Presidential Palace Amid Fear of Clashes

AMISOM troops in Mogadishu
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers travel on armoured vehicle as they leave the Jaale Siad Military academy after being replaced by the Somali military in Mogadishu, Somalia. February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – The African Union mission in Somalia is due to deploy fresh peacekeepers to Somalia’s presidential palace where troops separately loyal to the President and the Prime Minister continue to occupy rival positions, risking breakout of clashes in the heavily fortified area.

Local media have reported that the leaders attending a meeting of the National Consultative Council proposed the deployment after some of the regional Presidents allied with Farmajo stonewalled Roble’s bid to take full charge of the country’s security, in what he claimed would help counter use of armed forces in attempts to undermine ongoing elections.

The leader of Wadajir opposition party Abdirahman Abdishakur said last month that rival army factions were occupying positions on the rooftops of the two men’s offices inside the presidential compound, calling for removal of the president from the palace if tensions were to be de-escalated. read more

Hundreds of troops gathered outside the Prime Minister’s office, hours after he said he had survived a coup attempt orchestrated by the President. Military vehicles fitted with artillery weapons were also parked near his office as tensions soured, according to Reuters news agency.

Over the past days, there were reports by local media that Farmajo was mobilizing troops for a new possible attempt to oust the Prime Minister and take over his office. Hundreds of special forces loyal to him sneaked into the compound and were later seen at the gates of his palace. read more

The deployment is backed by foreign ambassadors in Mogadishu, who now push for a solution to the current crisis and pressure regional leaders and Roble to reach an agreement, and conclude elections quickly. The peacekeepers will not take orders from both Farmajo and Roble, and will tighten security of Villa Somalia. They are also expected to force rival forces to dismount from the rooftops of the two men’s offices and pull back in an effort to demilitarize the area.

Somali leaders have not yet publicly discussed the plan, which is aimed at averting possible clashes as power fight still continues with each side taking tougher stances to tighten noose on the other.

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