Somalia is gathering neighbouring countries in a bid to work on a concerted policy against Al-Shabaab militants, the first such meeting under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Kenya’s President William Ruto, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Djibouti’s Ismael Ghuelleh were expected in Mogadishu anytime from Wednesday for a high-level summit amid tight security.
Education centres and businesses were largely closed while flights to the Somali capital and public transport restricted.
On Tuesday, defence ministers and chiefs of defence forces of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti arrived in Mogadishu.
The three are collectively referred as Somalia’s frontline states with direct borders with the Horn of Africa country, as well as being members of the countries contributing troops to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis), the peacekeepers that replaced the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
Somalia’s Minister for Information Daud Aweys said that the meeting is meant to initiate a unified strategy among the Horn of Africa frontline states.
“Somalia hosts defence ministers and army commanders of the frontline states from Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia focusing on adopting of common regional security position, especially in the fight against Al-Shabaab,” Minister Aweys stated.
“This meeting is momentous because the current security situation of Somalia also affects Somalia’s neighbouring countries,” he added.
The defence ministers and army chiefs will set the agenda to be discussed by the heads of state and the governments of the frontline nations.
Together with the Somali president, the leaders are expected to discuss a number of issues including how to support the operations against the terrorists being carried out by the Somali government forces assisted by local vigilante groups that so far succeeded in seizing large territories from the control of Al-Shabaab.
A unified declaration is likely to be announced, urging the international community to help the lifting of the embargo against the Somali National Army to enable it clear the terrorist menace.
All sides in the summit are expected to shed light on the dangers posed by Al-Shabaab to the region and across Africa.