AU, UN add 4,000 Peacekeeping Troops to Somalia

Posted on January 31, 2011

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The African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) have decided to increase the number of peacekeeping forces in Somalia with 4,000 troops in the coming few months. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon confirmed the increment at the 16th Ordinary Summit held in Addis Ababa.

In the long run the AU aims to expand the mission to Somalia with 12,000 additional troops, reaching a total of 20,000 forces. The union is still awaiting the approval of the UN Security Council on this request. If approved the mission will be the second largest UN peacekeepers mission next to Darfur, Sudan, which is around 25,000 troops.

Currently the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) counts 8,000 troops providing protection to institutions of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that was established after the Ethiopian military interference in December 2006.

AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping pleads for an improved mandate for the peacekeepers in order to react militarily in case of clashes with armed rebels in the war-torn country.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, shows himself to be pleased with the extension of the AU mission.

He pointed out that it is necessary for Somalia to professionalize its own security forces in order to secure national law and act next to the peacekeeping forces. ‘In addition to AMISOM we want to have security forces of our own,’ he said. ‘And we have made substantial progress in this field.’

Earlier during the summit the AU and UN expressed their dissatisfaction on the performance of the TFG. Chairman Ping said the government failed to deliver.

In reaction minister Mohamed said his government has indeed made small progress to be seen ‘on the ground’. ‘What has been achieved cannot be left out or forgotten,’ he said. Mohamed also indicated that a government led by twenty men cannot change a country. He therefore called upon the Somali people to ‘put away their weapons, look beyond differences and build up their country.’

The cabinet that currently leads the TFG has been operational for sixty days, since its inauguration 26 November 2010. Its mandate will end on August 2nd 2011. Mohamed pointed out that the future of the TFG’s mandate is somewhat insecure.

‘If and when elections will take place by then still has to be decided by the cabinet and the parliament in Mogadishu,’ he said. ‘But in the end it is not about the mandate, it is about building strong institutions, such as you can see in Ethiopia and in London. We hope the international community will continue to assist us until we achieve these goals.’

Read more at New Business Ethiopia

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