Mogadishu, Somalia – Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu is under a total security lock-down placing a city-wide curfew on the city today as Somalia prepares for the nation’s newest president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo inauguration ceremony. Military elements from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Kenyan and Ugandan Defense Forces have set up security checkpoints along with heavily armed vehicle patrols throughout the capital city. Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is also closed to all commercial flights with elements of the Somali National Army’s U.S. Special Forces-trained counter-terrorism unit known as The Gashaan, or The Shield completely encompassing the airport’s perimeter as well as hardened security checkpoints at the Somali Air Force headquarters within the walled compound of AMISOM where the inauguration is to take place.
The heightened security posture is a result of the recent threat leveled at the incoming president from the al-Qaeda affiliated terror group al-Shabaab in which the terror group declared that it will continue its campaign of terror and violence against the new western-backed Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the peace-keeping troops of AMISOM. Additionally, a high-level African Union delegation of key African leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia is led by Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Gelle cobbled with western diplomats and is set to arrive at the Aden Adde Airport today to attend the Somali presidential inauguration.
Somali security police spokesperson, Ibrahim Mohamed, who addressed reporters in a press briefing at the Mogadishu airport clarified the city-wide lock-down by stating that: “All major roads and streets inside and outside the capital were closed down last night, movement is restricted and only the vehicles of government officials are allowed to move.” When asked for reasons why the international airport was shut down to all commercial air traffic for the inauguration, Mr. Mohamed replied by stating that this precaution “[I]s for security purposes and all commercial flights are cancelled today so that only aircrafts carrying the delegation are allowed.” Somalia’s Civil Aviation Ministry assured the nation and the international community that commercial flights will resume on Thursday February 23rd.
President Farmajo’s inauguration is being met with equal parts elation and fear as the new incoming president will face two major challenges as he takes office. The first is the threat of al-Shabaab within the country which has seen a dramatic uptick in violent attacks as of late with the terror group’s latest attack happening last Sunday in which a car-bomb was detonated in another crowded marketplace claiming up to 40 innocent Somali citizens. And the looming famine in which the United Nations has already projected at least 1.4 million of the East Africa’s population will be affected and food shortages are already affecting parts of Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan. The Somali people as well as the international community are hopeful that President Farmajo will aggressively address the security threat that is al-Shabaab along with developing a solid plan in thwarting what the U.N. is calling a severe risk of famine and drought that is already engulfing portions of the already beleaguered countryside of Somalia.
Feature Image courtesy of AFP