The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is held a meeting on Thursday aimed at enhancing peace and unity through community engagement to help curb sporadic flare-ups sparked by inter-clan conflicts in the Horn of Africa nation.
The three-day meeting is focusing on conflict resolution for leaders in the grassroots, in the Lower Shabelle region, one of the areas adversely impacted by such conflicts, said the AU mission in a statement issued on Wednesday evening.
Simon Mulongo, Deputy Special Representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia who opened the meeting urged participants to find amicably ways to resolve their differences.
“We are passing over responsibilities that we have been handling to the people of Somalia. We expect you to use the skills and knowledge acquired here, to promote peace,” Mulongo said in Mogadishu.
The meeting brought together district administrators, religious leaders, traditional elders and representatives of women and youth groups from Marka (el Jaale, Shalambot), Aw Dhegely/KM50 and Afgoye districts.
Hajji Ssebirumbi Kisinziggo, AMISOM’s senior political affairs officer, said the forum was organized to help Somali leaders in lower Shabbel region to end clan differences through dialogue.
“We are expanding in terms of building capacity and we shall also emphasize dialogue and reconciliation, as we work towards the transitioning of responsibilities to the Somali security forces,” Kisinziggo said.
He announced that the initiative would be expanded to other parts of Somalia, to help promote peace and reconciliation.
Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, Governor Of Lower Shabelle, said the al-Shabab militants have always thrived on divisions and cautioned the leaders against falling prey to the militants’ machinations.
“If we are divided on the basis of clans, then they (AMISOM) cannot pacify areas or make advances in the fight against al-Shabab,” he said according to the AU mission.
Barre stressed the importance of unity and peaceful co-existence between clans, noting that it was only through peace and unity that the region could develop and defeat al-Shabab and other armed groups who have destabilized communities for many years.