2015 will be 'decisive' for Somali politics: AMISOM chief

ADDIS ABABA – Maman Sidikou, head of the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said Friday that 2015 would be a "decisive" year for Somali politics.

"[This year will witness] preparations for the 2016 election," Sidikou, who is also special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission, told a press briefing held on the sidelines of an African Union summit that kicked off Friday in Addis Ababa.

He said 2015 would also see the drafting of a new Somali constitution.

Sidikou said AMISOM and the Somali army had recently retaken several towns from the militant Al-Shabaab group.

"Ten towns were liberated from Al-Shabaab following the first attack, known as 'Operation Eagle,' and eight others were liberated in the second joint-force attack," he said.

Sidikou said that AMISOM would continue supporting Somalia's army and police and pacifying the country despite continued attacks by Al-Shabaab.

"The attacks will only strengthen our resolve to free Somalia from terrorist groups," he said. "We shall not be deterred."

Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

Last year, fractious Somalia appeared to inch closer to stability after government troops and African Union forces – deployed in the country since 2007 – drove Al-Shabaab from most of its strongholds.

The militant group, however, has continued to stage attacks against government forces and African peacekeepers.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency