Somalia urges AU troops to abandon key stadium in Mogadishu


Monday, May 23, 2016

An African Union soldier standing guard inside Mogadishu stadium

BAKADWEYNE (HMC) – Somalia’s government has called for the African Union forces to leave a major soccer stadium in the Somali capital in order for it to be used for sports activities.

The 22000-strong force supporting Somali government occupied the Mogadishu stadium, the largest in the city before Islamist fighters were ousted, using it as a military base for years.

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Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, Somalia’s sports minister told reporters that the 60,000-capacity stadium once used by al-Shabab fighters as a military base is to be renovated once troops leave it.

“This is an important stadium which can generate a significant income for the country; hence we need to get it back to make it operational for sports activities.” Mr. Hassan who visited the stadium on Sunday said at a press conference in Mogadishu.

No comment could be reached from the African Union officials on the development; however, Somali government has sent similar appeals to the force before.

Built by Chinese engineers during the Siad Barr’s regime, the facility was also used for musical events before a civil war broke out in the country after warlords overthrew the central government in 1991.

Football matches have since been intermittently staged, as the stadium repeatedly changed hands among warring sides.