Tens of thousands of soldiers stationed at critical posts to keep the Al Qaida-linked Al Shabaab fighters at bay have abandoned their positions to march to the capital in protest of the absence of pay for several months.
The Somalia National Army (SNA) troops were specifically angered by disdainful comments the Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Kheyre, made recently in relation to the reported of absence of pay to the army. The PM, dismissing the rumors as baseless and unfounded, stated that all ‘registered’ army personnel were paid on time.
”Those omplaining of absence of pay are yet to be registered. We urge them to do so as soon as possible”, he said as if the process was in the hands of the soldier in the dugout – even if what he alleged was fractionally true.
But, apparently, it was not.
”If anything was baseless or unfounded, it was the government’s poor excuses. We are registered and some of us have been in the army since the days of the late President Abdullahi Yussuf,” an officer leading one of the revolting units said.
”There were times that we were not paid for eight or nine consecutive months and yet we stayed fully well confident that pay will come as soon as prevailing circumstances changed. This time it is different. There is no lack of resources. Only it is being squandered, and on top of that the government is adding insult to injury by claiming we were not registered and so missed pay,” another said.
The army marched or drove to Mogadishu from the Middle and Lower Shabellas on the west and north of the federal government seat.
This comes at a time the KDF has completely left all posts they manned in the Gedo region of the Jubaland Federal State of Somalia.
AMISOM, on the whole, has also put its graduated withdrawal from Somalia, into motion.
It was only day before that the Somalia Army Chief made disparaging remarks against the AU contingents that held the fragile Somalia system together for so long, accusing AMISOM troops of only using Somali soldiers as human shields.
With the possibility that Al Shabaab has already taken strategic positions inside and around Mogadishu due to the compromised security operations, rumors have surfaced that UN and other international organizations have already started pulling out key staff from their heavily fortified compounds at Halane for fear of thicker mortar fire targeting them from closer ranges.