MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has adopted a new strategy to divide his rivals after forces loyal to the opposition exerted authority over many parts of the capital Mogadishu this week.
In a meeting held on Thursday with the country’s powerful intelligence boss and army chief, Mohamed decided not to rush to another gun battle following warnings from the international community and to take an immediate action against soldiers backing opposition presidential candidates.
Army and police chiefs were ordered to identify soldiers who had defected to the opposition or emptied their bases to oppose an extension of outgoing president’s term and subsequently suspend their salaries.
Members of the army fighting among the ranks of opposition forces did not receive their salaries and some were told that they would not be paid unless they return to their barracks.
“I contacted Mogadishu police commander Farhan Qarole and asked him about my salary. He told me that my salary had been cut and that opposition leaders should pay me since I was fighting for them,” A police officer who had defected to the opposition said.
Speaking to Somaliguardian on the condition of anonymity for fear of being identified, the officer added that hundreds of other soldiers who fought alongside opposition forces during recent confrontations in Mogadishu are still unpaid.
Opposition presidential candidates, who are currently unable to pay their supporters, urged business and traditional leaders in Mogadishu to provide assistance to the army mutineers. Since then, donations including dozens of camels were given as food for the opposition-aligned forces to prevent them from returning to their bases.
“The decision has affected our morale. Our wives are calling us to pay bills and our pockets are run out of money,” says a military commander leading opposition-aligned forces in a front-line area in the south of the capital.
“But this will not prevent us from liberating our country from dictatorship and justice will soon prevail.”
Government officials approached by Somaliguardian declined to comment on the news.
It comes just a week after the national intelligence agency fired more than 700 plain-clothed agents over fear that they might defect to the forces against Farmajo’s bid stay in power beyond his constitutional term.
The decision is aimed at dividing the outgoing president’s rivals and if the opposition fails to pay the army mutineers helping its word heard, they will be forced to defect again, though some fear they could be jailed by the government if they return.
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