Plans On in Preparation for New Start
Church Information Service (Nairobi)
October 13, 2000
Some 2,000 militiamen have
already been demobilised and are now undergoing retraining in
special camps in the Somali capital, Mogadishu - the shell-pocked
city they once dominated.
Senior UN official Randolph
Kent told a press conference in New York on October 11 that the
process held out "optimism" for the new government of
Abdiqasim Salad Hasan, elected interim president this August at the
Djibouti-hosted Somali peace talks.
The Nairobi-based UN Resident
and Humanitarian Co-ordinator said Interim President Abdiqasim aimed
to create a force of 5,000 police officers, and that the business
community in Mogadishu had offered to fund the demobilisation
A Committee of National
Security CNS was set up by the new government in September to
demobilise thousands of young gun men who attached themselves to
factional clan leaders after civil war erupted in 1991.
"This is a generation who
have not known education, and have not known peace,"
humanitarian sources said. Head of the committee General Muhammad
Nur Galal said, in a telephone interview from Mogadishu, that
during the first three weeks of the committee being operational:
"We have encamped 2,300 militia and 110 'technicals' (jeeps
mounted with heavy weapons)".
He went on to say that the CNS
had also recalled former police officers. "So far we have
registered 1,900 former officers," he said. Galal said the
immediate target was "5,000 police and militia, and 150-200
technicals by the end of October".
But there have been complaints
about the recruitment tactics of the CNS, sources in Mogadishu said.
Critics said the committee was encamping and recruiting on a clan
A business source said
recruitment on a clan basis was "a mistake". "It is
what got us into this mess in the first place," he said.
Galal acknowledged militias
were being recruited and encamped along clan lines, but said it was
necessary in the initial stages to "bring in" militias
through co-operative clan leaders.
"Once we have them all, we
will certainly put them together," Galal said. He said some
clan militia had already been put together and were undergoing
retraining as one group.
According to Galal, the
committee had been overwhelmed by the number of people coming to a
few established demobilisation centres.
He said: "We don't have
the absorption capacity, nor the financial support to demobilise all
the militia that want to be demobilised". He said if there were
sufficient funds: "We could probably demobilise everyone".
Critics in Mogadishu, however,
do not agree with Galal. Sources in Mogadishu complained that it was
"wrong" of the commission to concentrate primarily on
encamping militias who have been working for the business community
and the Islamic Courts - both strong supporters of the new interim
A business source said the
Committee should be "going after the warlord militias and those
of freelance clans, not the government's base support".
Residents hoped that the
recruitment drive would encourage militia from opposing factions to
abandon their leaders, reducing the typical but deadly skirmishes
that plague the capital.
Publication date: October 16,
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