Somalia: Police to take over Mogadishu patrols from troops

By Guled Mohamed

MOGADISHU, May 22 (Reuters) - Police officers will soon take over patrols from military personnel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after citizens complained about their conduct, the police said on Tuesday.

"In the coming days you will not see military officers patrolling the city of Mogadishu. The police will take over control," senior police officer Ali Nur told Reuters. "The public have complained about the conduct of the military."

The military will fall back to a former military camp outside the city, he said.

There is little practical difference between police officers and soldiers in Mogadishu -- both are armed with the kind of military-calibre hardware that floods the anarchic capital.

Since the interim government, backed by Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes, routed militant Islamists from Mogadishu and southern Somalia over the New Year, soldiers have been dogged by accusations of brutality.

There has been a respite in fighting in Mogadishu since Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi declared victory over Islamist insurgents following battles in March and April that killed at least 1,300 people and flattened entire neighbourhoods.

But there have been increasing cases of attacks using guerrilla tactics -- including roadside bombs and targeted assassinations.

Preparations are under way for the National Reconciliation Conference next month, which has already been postponed once because of security issues.

Ali Mahdi Mohamed, chairman of organising committee, on Tuesday said 28 officials will be sent to 15 regions in the Horn of Africa nation.

"They will meet regional administrators as well as traditional elders to start to work out how to select delegates for the upcoming (conference)," Mahdi said.

Others were already in the Kenya capital Nairobi, meeting donors to secure funding for the conference.

Many diplomats see the conference as the last best hope for the interim government to secure greater legitimacy.

The government is the 14th attempt at establishing central rule since 1991, when the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre ushered in an era of anarchy.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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