Mogadishu mayor's desire to monopolise Benadir security raises concerns
New Benadir Governor and Mogadishu Mayor General Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab has proposed moving the region's entire security apparatus under his command, but military experts say such a move could jeopardise, rather than improve, the security situation.
When Mungab took the reins from Mohamud Ahmed Nur Tarsan on March 4th, he said his first priority would be to improve security in the city, and as such, he suggested that the head of the regional police report directly to him.
"I want to tell you that [the security agencies] should come under the direct command of the governor of Benadir regional administration and the mayor of Mogadishu city," Mungab said in a speech at his inauguration. "They should come under him directly and he should issue day-to-day orders to them, give them their allowances and hold them accountable."
The governor said that if there is any "obstruction" as he rolls out his new security plan he cannot be held responsible for the region's security situation. Officials from the region's police and intelligence agencies have not made any public statements on the governor's proposal.
At issue, however, is exactly how the oversight would be implemented without a change in the chain of command.
Currently the police in Mogadishu answer to the head of regional police, who reports directly to the head of national police, while Benadir intelligence services report to Somalia's national intelligence agency, the National Security Agency (NSA).
"It is something new to have all security agencies [that operate] in Mogadishu come under the authority of the governor of the Benadir administration," said retired General Mohamed Nur Galal, who served as deputy defence minister in the Mohamed Siad Barre regime.
"Collaboration does exist whereby officers from the [NSA] and regional police work together, as both are responsible for the security of the region. But each has had a [separate chain of command]," he told Sabahi, adding that Mungab's proposal is a complete break from traditional security structures.
Galal said if the new governor is to be given the authority to command all the security agencies in Mogadishu, the structure of the agencies with jurisdiction over the capital city will have to be revised to coordinate work and somehow integrate the various chains of command.
All the security agencies that work in a region as broad and big as Benadir cannot be led by one person, Galal said.
Mungab's move could set new precedent
Retired Colonel Dahir Timoade, who served in the Somali Army during the Barre administration, said that if the command structures of the police and intelligence services of Benadir administration are placed under Mungab, it could lead to the governors of every region requesting the same authority.
"I do not believe in giving the new governor [that] power," he told Sabahi.
"Security agencies must be independent to do their job so that the country does not become chaotic and have each governor say, 'Security agencies must come under my authority,'" he said. "There are agencies that are intact and tasked with security matters. So, these agencies should be held accountable on anything related to security and they should be given the independence to do the job, as well enhance any collaboration."
Timoade said that for security to be improved, the Benadir region's security branches should be reformed.
"I think it would have been better to dismiss [and replace] the entire leadership of the police and intelligence services of Benadir region and ensure there is real accountability in place," he said.
Timoade applauded Tarsan for making strides in Mogadishu security and social affairs.
"Three years ago, the capital was not as beautiful as it is today, especially the streets which have been reconstructed with solar streetlights installed," he said. "Therefore, I would advise the new governor to emulate the previous governor, and I still cannot understand the reason he was removed from his post without any accusations against him."
For his part, Benadir spokesman Mohamed Yusuf Osman said it was important for the security agencies to come under the authority of the governor.
Security agencies in Benadir region take orders from both the national police and the NSA, he said.
"Security will greatly improve if security branches will come under and take orders from [one command under] the governor of Benadir region," Osman told Sabahi. The proposed regional security command would also comprise the regional intelligence service commander and the chairman of Benadir regional court, he said.
Under Mungab's new plan, each district in Mogadishu would also have a district security command, which will include the district police chief and the chairman of the district court.
"This is how we want to secure the city, with police officers able to [enter and] conduct ongoing security operations throughout district neighbourhoods, unlike now when they can only launch major operations at the intersections of Mogadishu's roads," Osman said.
In a presidential decree released Wednesday (March 12th), President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed further completed the reshuffle of senior officials in the regional administration making four new appointments.
Kamaludin Dahir Hassan was named Benadir deputy governor in charge of political and diplomatic affairs, Ismail Moalim Abdi Gure the deputy governor in charge of management and treasury, Iiman Nur Iikar the deputy governor in charge of social affairs and Mohamed Sheikh Ilmi Mohamud Amiin as the Secretary General of the Benadir regional administration.
Ali Mohamed Gure, former deputy governor in charge of politics and social affairs, Warsame Mohamed Hassan, former deputy governor in charge of security, and Abdi Kafi Hiloule, former secretary general of the administration, were removed from office.