Somali President’s Purge of the Military Reaches Unprecedented Level Ahead of Elections

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Several military officers have been shortlisted to replace Somali special forces Chief Ismael Abdimalik who was arrested for suspected links with former prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

The names of two men have appeared on the list of military officers willing to hold the position of the commander of US-trained Somali special forces, popularly known as Danab. Abdirahman Jeniqar former commander of Danab and Saeed Kampala, an inexperienced military officer who has been promoted to the rank of colonel during the term of the incumbent president have now emerged as strong contenders to succeed Danab commander who is currently in custody.

Recently, under the orders of president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo Danab commander Ismael Abdimalik has been arrested and dismissed due in part to belonging to the same clan as former prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Since the ouster of Mr Khaire in a parliament vote of no-confidence a number of employees, officials and military and security commanders have been arrested or thrown out of their jobs. The number is now likely to stretch to hundreds with no official estimates. But the effort aims to cleanse all state institutions of Khaire supporters before the country goes to polls early next year.

The purge does not only target officials suspected of having links with former prime minister but those belonging to the clan of former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud are also held at bay.

Turkish-trained special forces commander Gen. Mahadey had been killed late last year in an assassination style shooting carried out by security forces in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Several months later, Col. Sharif Dofil, a presidential guard officer and the driver of former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was found dead inside a hotel near the presidential complex. A female government employee left his room shortly before his body was discovered and attempts to unravel the cause of his death have come to an abrupt end.

All these efforts are widely seen as part of an extensive purge by the incumbent president against officials affiliated with opposition figures to ensure his dream of holding on to power ahead of upcoming elections.

One of the contenders for the vacant position of Danab commandership Saeed Kampala is the nephew of President Farmajo and under the president’s order he was promoted to colonelship. He was a civilian before he was sent to a staff college in Uganda during the incumbent president’s term while having no prior military skills and there, he was received training on staff duties, in the course of which he failed twice in exams.

The president ignoring the inexperience and lack of prowess of the man, ordered his military chief to promote Mr Kampala to the rank of colonel so that he could be used to fill vacant positions left behind by well-known commanders in the planned purge that was to come.

The other known contender to succeed the recently dismissed Danab commander is Abdirahman Jeeni-qaar, the former chief of the US-trained Somali special forces who was arrested on charges involving theft of cache of weapons. He was later released following a massive campaign by the federal MPs from his region – who also stood in the way of trialing him at a military court.

There are very real fears among army and security officials about what will come next, given that those among them who have been fired raise fear of being targeted in Al-Shabaab attacks since the group still continues to hit high-profile targets in the capital and other regions across restive south Somalia.

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