STORY: SOMALIA / KISMAYO SEA PORT
SOURCE: AU/UN IST
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CREDIT REQUIRED: AU/UN IST
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS
DATELINE: 08 OCTOBER 2012, KISMAYO, SOMALIA
The port of Kismayo located 500km from the capital Mogadishu has for the last five years been the lifeline of the al Shabaab militant group, that used it for resupplying and also the export of charcoal to gain revenue for its extremist operations. The port which stretches several kilometres has nothing to show for all the goods that have been exchanged on its shores. The buildings are rundown and rust and bullet holes have got the best of them.
The capture of Kimayo by the Somali National Army (SNA) and pro-government forces, with support from the Kenyan Contingent of AMISOM, has rendered a heavy blow on the al Qaeda linked group who taxed the local residences and business people to raise money for the movement. Having lost their economic hub, al Shabaab is believed to have been severely weakened. On the 2nd of October 2012, African Union forces and Somali forces pushed al Shabaab out of the southern port city, and they are now in control of the seaport, airport and other strategic locations in the city.
With the security situation getting better in the Kismayo officials from the AMISOM contingent have been holding several meetings with members of the civil service and the business community in the area as a way of bringing some kind of normalcy to the city. But even under AMISOM's heavy security, these business men are still afraid to be filmed, as they fear they might still be targeted by al Shabaab supporters believed to be hiding among the population in the city.
SOUNDBITE (English), Col Cyrus Oguna, KDF Spokesman, "80 per cent of business here in Kismayo is basically charcoal business and a lot of it is still lying out there and so really they just wanted to know how that will be dealt with, and we did explain to them and again we have to consult further to see how whatever that is already out there can be gotten out or sold out so that they can be able to earn a decent living from what they have done so far."
In 2008 among other sanctions on Somalia, the UN passed sanctions prohibiting all direct and indirect import of charcoal from Somalia or from a person in Somalia, whether or not the charcoal originated from Somalia. But as you drive through the city it is evident that charcoal is the local’s main source of revenue and residences are concerned. The port of Kismayo remains closed for the moment until some sort of administration is formed to run the affairs of the city. On the streets more shops are being opened and the residents are beginning to interact with the AMISOM forces.
SOUNDBITE (English), Col Cyrus Oguna, KDF Spokesman, "I think in terms of the overall security situation, I think it has improved tremendously, it is getting better and better everyday and we expect within the coming few weeks it will be a lot better, but now if you go into town they can wave back, so even their confidence is building. So they have also vowed to work with the security agencies and that will enhance the security of the town, so we expect better security in the coming days."
The spokesperson of the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Col. Ali Aden Mahud has urged all al Shabaab fighters in other parts of the country to cease fighting and give themselves up.
Over the weekend in Mogadishu, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, announced Abdi Farah Shidon Saaid, as the country's new prime Minister. Mr. Saaid, a political newcomer is a prominent businessman in neighbouring Kenya and married to an influential Somali peace activist. Saaid’s main task is the setup up Somalia’s first effective central government since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.
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