The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has officially handed over the country’s national stadium to the government, which they had been occupying since 2011.
VOA journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that cleaning up of the stadium that has not hosted any sporting event since 1991, has kicked off in earnest.
BREAKING: The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) officially handed-over Mogadishu’s main Stadium to Somali authorities. The stadium was used as a military base since Sept 2011 when Al-Shabab was dislodged from the capital. Cleaning up work has started in the stadium. pic.twitter.com/Qs3z6YmRK8
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) August 28, 2018
The stadium in Mogadishu was captured from jihadist group Al Shabaab by AMISOM and the Somali Army during an operation to liberate the city in September 2011.
Al Shabaab had banned all sporting activity as it used the stadium as a base for terror activities.
During a pre-handover inspection of the stadium on Monday, Somalia’s president Mohamed Farmaajo thanked AMISOM for their continued support towards the restoration of peace.
AMISOM says the president expressed satisfaction with the transition process, as the peacekeeping force works exiting the Horn of Africa country.
During the tour of the Stadium, President— AMISOM (amisomsomalia) August 27, 2018
M_Farmaajoexpressed his satisfaction with the transition process and thanked #AMISOM troops for their sacrifice and continued support towards the restoration of peace in #Somalia. #NabadIyoNolol pic.twitter.com/nbHG8aVAnL
AMISOM’s Uganda Contingent Commander, Brig.Gen Paul Lokech, says the handover of the stadium to the Somalia Government is to facilitate rehabilitation and proper usage of the facility.
Somalis celebrate handover
News of the handover was celebrated on social media, where pictures and videos of Somalis cleaning the facility were also shared.
Amisom have finally evacuated Mogadishu Stadium
Prior to the civil war, the stadium was used for national ceremonies (seen below), sporting activities, presidential addresses and political rallies pic.twitter.com/HkNZ7ymn1s
— Aided c/raxman (@c_aided) August 27, 2018
Today’s handover ceremony at Mogadishu Stadium it gives our youth & sports an opportunity for youth to use the Stadium pic.twitter.com/7Q3zvvby3z
— Abdirahman O. Osman (@engyarisow) August 28, 2018
A big day for sportsmen and women in #Somalia as— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (AbdulBillowAli) August 28, 2018
amisomsomaliafinally vacates #Mogadishu Stadium seven years after turning the facility into a military base. The facility built by China in the 1970’s is by far the biggest sporting facility in the country. pic.twitter.com/CuKFmJMv9E
Built in 1980, The #Mogadishu Stadium, used to host the national and Continental #Sporting activities, presidential addresses and country's main events. Close to a decade that it has been base for #AMISOM troops, not it has severe physical damage that needs repair pic.twitter.com/UztGFLRa0o
— Sahra Abdi Ahmed (@SahraCabdi) August 27, 2018
The citizens of Mogadishu are spontaneously and voluntarily cleaning the Mogadishu stadium!
Credit: Abdi Dhaanto pic.twitter.com/eDOE30Bumx
— MyWorld (@KingYusufYusuff) August 28, 2018
— mwalimu Jamal Bwana (@mwalim_bwana) August 27, 2018