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Unpaid soldiers strike and protest in Mogadishu

March 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Somali security forces stand near the damaged area at an explosion site in Mogadishu, Somali on March 13, 2017. ( Tuuryare Adde – Anadolu Agency )

Hundreds of soldiers went on strike in the Somali capital yesterday, blocking roads and forcing businesses to close in protest over unpaid salaries, a challenge for the new president who has vowed to defeat militant group, Al-Shabaab.

Witnesses saw soldiers – some armed – stopping traffic at several locations including on two major roads and at two junctions. At the K5 junction, unarmed soldiers ordered shops and restaurants to close, and on Maka Al-Mukaram, a major street, soldiers blocked traffic with a pickup truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun.

Captain Ali Osman, a military official told Reuters, that the soldiers were protesting to remind the president of his campaign promise to pay all arrears. “He was elected in February and now we are in the middle of March so we conducted a peaceful demo to remind the president of his promise because he has not paid us,” Osman said.

Mohamed, a colonel who declined to give his second name, said that about 2,000 soldiers from two military bases, Villa Baidoa and the ex-petrol refinery, had come out on strike. “Soldiers from the two bases … and many other bases in and outside Mogadishu were not paid salary for 15 months,” he said.

Military officials say Somalia’s army is 40,000 strong in Mogadishu and its surrounding regions. Semi-autonomous regions outside the capital’s immediate vicinity pay their own armies