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Vol 60 No 8

Published 19th April 2019


Out for the count

It was hardly surprising that government soldiers should abandon their posts after not being paid

Army day in Somalia is 12 April. But March was mutiny month. The country is still counting the cost after the Somali National Army abandoned three major bases in Gedo, Lower and Middle Shabelle in the middle of the month and went on strike or mounted other protests over not being paid or supplied with food for the three previous months. Al Shabaab did not wait to be asked to take advantage, and it occupied the town of Balad, 20 kilometres north of Mogadishu, for several hours and orchestrated a series of bombings and assassinations around the country, including an assault on Mogadishu City Council which claimed the life of the Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Saqar Ibrahim Abdallah. Western donors to the SNA have long tussled with the problem of getting their funds to soldiers on the ground without it being filched on the way, or financing fictional 'ghost' units whose pay is embezzled. Food and materiel are another source of illicit profit. The solution has long been to hand: biometric registration of the rank and file.

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