AU trains 27 Somali police officers to secure elections

Female officers with the Somali Police Force (SPF) stand in formation in the capital Mogadishu on May 7, 2012. (African Union / UN Photo / STUART PRICE)

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said 27 Somali police officers have completed five-day training on how to effectively secure ongoing elections.

The training for police officers from the government and two federal member states of Puntland and Galmudug focused on building the capacity of the participants on legal frameworks for elections, roles and responsibilities of police commanders and security forces in elections, public order management, and it also provided guidelines on gender-related security issues.

The AMISOM strategic management advisor for reforms restructuring and development Agapitus Ecotu said the Somali Police Force (SPF) will lead in providing security at election venues and for election officials and delegates while AMISOM’s role is to provide support to SPF.

“It is expected that the officers who have received this training will share it with their colleagues to build the capacity of their forces in the various states,” Ecotu said in a statement issued Wednesday.

AMISOM Police is mandated to train, mentor and advise the SPF to help transform it into a credible and effective force comparable to global policing standards.

Somali State Minister for Interior Farhan Ali Mohamed, who spoke at the occasion marking the conclusion of the training, hoped the skills gained would enhance the officers’ ability to prepare, plan and conduct security operations during the elections.

“We are in an election period and security is very important to the democratic process. The coordination between the Somalia Police officers and AMISOM will ensure that we have a credible, secure and fair election,” Ali said.

Osman Abdullahi Mohamed, SPF deputy commissioner, said with the support of AMISOM, high standards of professionalism and commitment to duty were being inculcated into the SPF.

“It is our expectation that the sacrifice you have made, staying away from your loved ones and your homes will be useful. It is now time for you to go and strengthen the capacity and competence of other officers in your areas of jurisdiction. You have a duty to provide reliable security during the election,” Osman told the graduating class.

The Somali leaders in May announced plans to commence the electoral process within 60 days to help ease political tensions which erupted after President Mohamed Farmajo extended his term in office.

The timetable announced by Prime Minister Mohamed Roble and five federal member state leaders set elections for the Upper House on July 25, and the Lower House between August 10 and September 10.

Both houses will then convene and vote for the president on October 10.