The Somali National Army and the African Union Mission In Somalia will halt any attempts by the militant insurgent group Al Shabaab to disrupt the upcoming electoral process, the African Union Special Representative for Somalia, Francisco Madeira said Friday.
Ambassador Madeira told a meeting of top military commanders in Mogadishu that together, the forces would go on the offensive against Al Shabaab to deny them room to plan and execute their heinous acts that have cost the lives of hundreds of civilians.
“Disrupting Al – Shabaab means going after them and not waiting for them to come to us. The correct tactic is both defence and attack. We need to attack Al-Shabaab,” Ambassador Madeira, said.
Securing the electoral process, ascertaining the physical strength of the Somali National Army and an offensive operation against Al-Shabaab will be top priority in the coming months, Ambassador Madeira said.
Ambassador Madeira said the Somali National Army (SNA), is undertaking an assessment of its strength in the respective sectors, an exercise which, would be completed before the end of the month. AMISOM sector commanders and their SNA counterparts have been meeting in Mogadishu to review joint operations ahead of the 2016 electoral process.
The AU Special Representative for Somalia assured the public of their safety during the electoral process and urged them to participate in the exercise.
“There is no way the elections will be stopped because of the attempt by the Al-Shabaab to disrupt them. We are aware that this is their main aim. They will try as much as possible to frustrate our objective, but we are getting even better prepared to make sure that they do not succeed. I appeal to the entire population and all the electors to go to the polling stations and vote and make the elections a success and not feel intimidated,” Ambassador Madeira said.
He observed that the main role of AMISOM and SNA will be to secure voting centres, important election materials and also provide security for candidates, delegates and the general population.
Somalia’s electoral process scheduled to begin next month, has received backing from Somalis at home and in the diaspora. The electoral process will culminate in a presidential vote on 30 October.