2012 was a year of rich Harvest in Somalia – UPDF
By Julius Odeke
After two decades of the conflict in the history of Somalia, the year 2012 could be referred to as “the year of rich harvest” following the great strides towards stabilization that the country witnessed in the last 12 months.
The Uganda Contigent Public Relations Officer for African Union Mission In Somalia, Maj Henry Obbo says, “Somalia, a country that was referred to as a failed state, experienced its turning point in 2007 with the landing at Mogadishu airport of some brave 1600 officers and men of the UPDF who in African brotherhood took the risk of liberating this most feared and dangerous part of the world.”
He says at the time when UPDF soldiers were deployed there they were greeted by heavy gunfire and mortar shells, the troops though so few to the task, endured the challenge and as the years passed by, their heroic start has opened new chapters in the history of Somalia.
While addressing journalists in his office, the AMISOM Force Commander, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti said that in 2012, AMISOM operations shifted to second phase which involved rolling out operations and deployment of troops in all the key regions in south and middle Somalia.
Apart from Mogadishu from where Al-Shabaab retreated in 2011, the other regional Capitals of Jubaland, Middle Shaballe, Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Hiraan regions were captured in 2012 and the places left are smaller towns that will likely be captured with little or no resistance.
As part of the consolidation operations to limit threats, by Shabaab remnants and sympathizers, on the population, the AU forces are conducting cordon and search operation, and started community security mobilization drive aimed at promoting dialogue and encouraging disengagement. This coupled with operation pressure imposed on the Insurgents led to massive defections of 274 fighters to Ugandan contingent forces in 2012.
The Uganda Contingent commander, Brig Michael Ondoga said: “We are glad that after security mobilization and assurance of security by AMISOM, the populace now detests Al shabaab and therefore the insurgents should urgently consider disengaging and joining in the National peace building process because modern wars cannot be won without the support of the population.”
Loss of vast strategic territory and personnel due to defections and being captured while in combat was not all that the Al Shabaab suffered in 2012.
They also further lost sources of their revenue not only due to the capture of places like Kismayo, Afgoye and Marka but also due to the UN security Council resolution that banned exportation of charcoal which was their main source of revenue left.
As the year grew in months there has been general improvement in the Economic sector too with many Somalis living abroad coming back to invest in Somalia and an average of over 16 international flights coming in and (usually equal numbers) out per day at Mogadishu International airport.
Maj Obbo says, there has also been a record increased revenue collection at Mogadishu sea port by the end of the year as the number of Ships docking have close to doubled since October 2012,” adding that, “Sea safety has also improved as the NATO December 2012 report indicated that there has not been hijack by pirates off Somalia coast in the last six months of the year. This was attributed among other to the improved security situation within Somalia itself where the Pirates originated.”
Very Important also in 2012 was a successful political process which saw for the first time in two decades the opening of a constituency assembly on July 25th, approval of a draft constitution on August 1st, election of Members of parliament on August 20th, election of a speaker of parliament on August 28th, presidential election on September 10th, and appointment of a Prime minister on October 6th, and a cabinet on November 4th who were all overwhelmingly approved by the parliament.