Somalia should accelerate reforms of its army, its main foreign backers said on Wednesday after discussing slow progress in transforming the graft-ridden force into one capable of fighting al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants.
The statement from a donor summit in Brussels urged Somalia to work faster to address problems identified in a report last year by the government, the United Nations and the African Union (AU).
That report called the Somali National Army (SNA) a “fragile force with extremely weak command and control”, and comes as AU peacekeepers prepare for their departure in 2020, leaving the local military in charge of Somalia’s security.
The AU force began drawing down last year. It does most of the fighting against Shabaab insurgents who launch attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. Without strong Somali forces, Shabaab could be reinvigorated, analysts say.
Donors said the army should create biometric registration and electronic payroll systems to curb corruption.
“The SNA has to improve dramatically in a short amount of time as it is falling farther and farther behind schedule on achieving the benchmarks agreed to last year,” said Joshua Meservey, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.