By Mahad Salad
A statement from the conference of leaders of the national federal government and regional presidents in Mogadishu on 15-16 April 2017 shared with partner countries as part of the basis for London conference broadly defined that Somalia will have a 18,000 strong army excluding the air force and navy.
The troops will be sourced from the existing regional administrations (Puntland, Galmudug, Jubbaland, South West and HirShabelle) and Banaadir in a proportional manner each allocated 3000 troops.
I believe that taking this arrangement to the London Conference will be a misfortune to the building up of Somali army that can sustain unity and development. I posit the following counter-arguments:
- 18,000 soldiers cannot maintain the peace and security which couldn’t be handled by the current 30,000 soldiers.
- The security and political circumstances of Somalia extensively need enormous and larger number of military personnel that can handle and sustain unity, peace and sovereignty.
- The construction of Somali armed forces is the responsibility of Somali Federal government as defined by the Article 54 of the Somali Federal Constitution which zones four key areas as strictly within the province of the Federal Government: foreign affairs, national defense, citizenship and immigration, monetary policy.
- There is currently a military arms sanction on Somalia, and if federal and regional leaders accept this 18,000 soldiers deal, we will never build a stronger military army and we will not be able to acquire any more arms than is enough for the 18,000 even in the event of an expansion. This will keep us in the same circle we have been for the last 57 years.
- This is going to de-commission nearly 30,000 soldiers who’ve fought, wounded and maimed while others died defending this government. What will their fate or is there a clear plan as to what are they going to do? Without a clear plan, there is a risk the ex-soldiers could fall prey to terrorist groups and turn against the government.
Therefore, I suggest to the leaders of Somalia and to the Somali people to widen their eyes concerning the approval of the national security architecture in London which may end up a disaster to our sovereignty.
Mahad Salad is a member of the Lower House and former state minister