Somalia’s president says al-Qaeda-backed rebels are ‘resurgent’

Five years after a U.N.-backed force began to push al-Qaeda-linked militants out of their strongholds, Somalia boasts clear signs of progress. Large swaths of the country have been reclaimed. Streets, beaches and markets have come back to life in once forsaken cities. The United States has promised to rebuild its long-shuttered embassy.

But as Somalia approaches a critical period, with parliamentary and presidential elections due by August, those gains are showing signs of reversal.

The al-Shabab rebels are “resurgent,” President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said in an interview last week. He and other senior officials acknowledged that ­Somalia’s government is still ­unable to provide security or public services to regions that have been liberated. The government must choose between giving its soldiers wages or weapons, he said.

“The Somali government cannot afford to pay the soldiers and at the same time to purchase lethal equipment,” Mohamud said. “This is the dilemma that we have.”

Western officials say they have provided ample aid but that much of it is diverted through corruption and that the Somali government must do a better job of constructing a security force that fits within its budget.

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