August 16, 2018 / 12:37 PM / 3 months ago

Somali president names new military chief in security services revamp

FILE PHOTO: Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed arrives for an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia on Thursday named a new military supreme commander, a deputy head of intelligence services and ahead of presidential security as part of a revamp of security forces to better tackle the Islamist militant threat.

Diplomats worry that without strong, corruption-free security forces, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants could be reinvigorated, destabilising the region and offering a safe haven to other jihadist groups including Islamic State.

State-run radio said President Mohamed Abdullahi had appointed Dahir Adan Ilmi as the commander of the Somali National Army, Fahad Yasin as deputy director of the National Intelligence Security Agency.

No reason was given for the changes. But the Horn of Africa country has been striving to overhaul its security forces, especially the army, that have drawn accusations of corruption from Somalia’s international donors.

Last year, the United States suspended food and fuel aid for most of Somalia’s armed forces for alleged graft in frustration at the failure of successive Somali governments to build a viable national army.

State-run radio said Abdullahi had also appointed Amina Saiid Ali as the director of presidential security. She will be the first woman to hold the position.

Somalia has suffered from lawlessness and armed conflict since 1991. Al Shabaab is fighting to oust the Western-backed central government in Mogadishu, which is protected by African Union peacekeepers, and install a government based on its strict interpretation of sharia (Islamic law).

The militants have killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Mark Heinrich

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