African Union troops leave Somali stadium as part of gradual pullout

The African Union mission in Somalia has handed over the biggest stadium in Mogadishu to the Somali government as part of the mission’s plan to turn over control of the country’s security to its own troops.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo received the keys to Mogadishu Stadium during a handover ceremony on Monday (27 August).

The African Union mission, known as Amisom, had used the sports facility as a military base since 2011 when its soldiers ousted al-Shabab from the Somali capital.

“In order for Somalia to regain its sporting status in Africa and at the international level, we are going to spare no efforts in restoring this stadium to its former glory,” said Farmajo at the ceremony.

The government says it would plan a full reconstruction of the facility as it returned to use as the nation’s main football stadium.

Amisom said the handover of the complex was part of the ongoing transition process as it plans to leave Somalia by 2021.

The AU force has been battling al-Qaida-allied al-Shabab for more than 10 years.

Somalia was plunged into a two-decade civil war by the collapse of its central government in 1991.

Farah Yussuf is a Digital Reporter with Star FM Kenya. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Masinde Muliro University.

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