By Addis Getachew Tadesse
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi said Wednesday his government -- elected in February this year -- had strategized to defeat the militant group al-Shabaab in two years.
“Al-Shabaab has been active in Somalia for the last ten years causing huge destruction,” Abdullahi said during a joint news conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa following a close session with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Al-Shabaab is intent on expanding its reach to neighboring countries, and that gives a reason for cooperation against the menace posed by the militant group, the Somali president added.
He praised the support provided in this regard by Ethiopia and Kenya as well as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“AMISOM has been working together with government and the sacrifices of [men in uniform] of neighboring countries will not go in vain,” he said, commending the regional collaboration against the al-Qaeda affiliated group.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, for his part, said his discussion with the Somali president was on “major pertinent issues” including the fight against terrorism, the current drought that affects both countries as well as development cooperation.
“We sink or swim together," Hailemariam said. “We cannot thrive leaving other nations behind."
The prime minister added that lack of security in Somalia would ultimately affect neighboring countries by way of a spillover effect.
President Abdullahi’s Ethiopia visit coincided with the announcement of the recapture of Halgan province in Hiran region by the Somali National Army backed by Ethiopian troops.
“We entered a new chapter of wide ranging cooperation," PM Hailemariam said.