File photo shows a family return home after rebels of Al-Shabaab vacated their strognhold in Mogadishu, on Aug. 11, 2011. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
NAIROBI, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The international community should rally behind efforts to revitalize the war against Al-Shabaab militants in order to hasten Somalia's reconstruction, a senior AU official has said.
Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, told Xinhua Friday that a mixture of diplomatic, military and economic tools is required to boost the war against terrorism in the Horn of African state.
"Liberating Somalia from the crippling influence of Al-Shabaab and violence is the first step to stabilize the country," Madeira said during an interview in Nairobi.
The veteran Mozambican diplomat who is also the head of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) noted that military assault against Al-Shabaab fighters has paid dividends but warned the Al-Qaida-linked terror network remained a huge threat to peace and stability in the greater Horn of Africa region.
"It is the responsibility of Somalia government and armed forces, neighbors and other partners far afield to root out terrorism and insecurity," said Madeira.
The AU envoy noted that targeted airstrikes and enhanced intelligence gathering has dealt a huge blow to Al-Shabaab as evidenced by deaths and defections of senior commanders.
At the same time, Madeira said enhanced collaboration between African Union troops and Somali armed forces has dislodged Al-Shabaab in key strongholds.
"Our anti-terrorism strategies are yielding results and there has been destabilization within Al-Shabaab. The day this armed group denounced violence, it will create a conducive environment to work for peace in Somalia," Madeira told Xinhua.
He stressed that enhanced coordination coupled with empowering Somalia's disciplined forces is key to salvaging the country from the grip of terror and civil strife ahead of exit of AU troops that is expected to end next year.
He said military interventions to root out terrorism in Somalia have ushered in some levels of stability in the country hence attracting foreign direct investments.
Madeira noted that the AU troops in collaboration with Somalia National Army have managed to bring stability in regions that were terrorism havens.
"We will continue to fight alongside Somalia troops to eradicate terrorism in the country," said Madeira.
He added that the African Union is also keen on strengthening cooperation with China to help address Somalia's endemic challenges like terrorism, civil strife and natural calamities.