We can now account for 16,203 soldiers-PM

Slightly over 16,000 soldiers have been registered under the government payroll system, Prime Minister Hassan Khaire has said.

Addressing the Senate during its re-opening for the 5th session yesterday, the PM said the government can now account for 16,203 soldiers who now receive salaries through an integrated system. The soldiers, the PM said also receive food rations from the government.

The PM told the Senators the government had put in place security and access to justice as key in the implementation of the national security architecture.

“The government has now acquired a count and registered 16,203 soldiers under the Somali National Army and provides food and pays their salaries directly to their accounts,” the PM said.

Some soldiers withdrew late last month from their bases in Middle Shabelle region claiming they had not received their salaries for four months. But the PM blamed the soldiers for failing to register with the government.

The exact number of the national army is not yet clear with reports indicating between 15,000 and 25,000. Efforts to conclude the biometric registration have been hampered by claims of corruption, nepotism and politics. The first major biometric registration exercise started in 2011 and has not been completed to date.

The U.S withdrew its funding to the national army covering food and rations and fuel in December 2017 following what it termed as lack of accountability on funds given to the military.

The PM also said the Federal Government had ‘laid the foundation for long term commitment’ on a number of areas such as reforms in the security sector, economic infrastructure and efforts towards debt relief. Other areas the PM said include constitutional review process, federalism and election and provision of basic social services.

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