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Somalia - African Union summit

AU confident UN will approve Somalia troop boost

Reuters

The African Union is confident that the United Nations will soon rubber stamp its proposed boosting of its force in Somalia to 17,000 troops. After a ministerial meeting at the Addis Ababa summit on Saturday AU High Representative for Somalia Jerry Rawlings told RFI that the UN Security Council will okay their plans and help finance the extra soldiers.

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“The efforts of the military have been able to create a fairly secure atmosphere. This is from my own personal observations as well,” Rawlings told RFI, as he left the meeting on Somalia.

African news explained
Click on the picture to listen to the AU High Commissionner Jerry Rawlings

The AU has provided the UN with a wish list and proposal for an increase in the number of troops for the Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia) force in their fight against the hardline Al-Shebab group.

A report will be delivered to the Security Council at the start of February with UN Security Council negotiations taking place thereafter. These will form the basis of a new resolution that some UN Security Council members hope will be agreed before the London conference on Somalia at the end of February.

“British officials in New York are working closely with African Union officials and the UN’s peacekeeping operations to consider requests from the AU for both troop uplifts and enhancement to the support package provided to Amisom,” a British official told RFI on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, African diplomats are working to try and improve the political situation on the ground in Somalia.

Former Ghanaian president Rawlings was in Mogadishu earlier this week to speak to Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan regarding the newly-appointed parliament speaker.

Earlier this month, fistfights broke out in Somalia's parliament after lawmakers elected a new speaker, Madobe Nunow and sacked Adan.

The political infighting within Somalia needs to be addressed, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said at the AU summit, referring to the issue.

“We have emphasized the need for the leadership in Somalia to stop bickering,” he said. “They spend a lot of time fighting each other at the expense of the relations of their country,” he added.

Wetangula said that British ministers at the summit had briefed everyone as to what to expect for the London conference. He said that the African contingent had high hopes.

“Emphasising the role played by Somalia’s neighbours, the sacrifices we have made, the role of Igad (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), the role of the AU, must all be recognized and aggregated to be the foundation upon which any future foundations of Somalia must be built,” said Wetangula.

“I am just hoping that with the flowing in of the resources that we are asking for we can help to set up the local administration in order to stabilise and give the various communities some focal points of authority,” said Rawlings.

Rawlings is confident about what he says is an improving security situation and believes the boost in troop numbers would bring further stability. He said that the end of the Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) mandate is likely to be high on the agenda during the 23 February London conference.

“I know people are worried come August, and that’s why the London conference will give some sense of direction,” he said.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Friday that he would pull Ethiopian soldiers out of Somalia as soon as possible.

“The decision has all along been to help the TFG and we will withdraw our troops as soon as feasible,” Meles told reporters.

He said they would not create a vacuum expecting Amisom troops to fill in the gaps before any withdrawal.

Amisom currently has 10,000 troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Ethiopia joined the offensive against Al-Shebab in November. While Kenya sent troops and tanks into southern Somalia in October.

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