AU to send 4,000 troops to Somalia as UN opposes

The African Union (AU) will add 4,000 troops to its peacekeepers in Somalia.

AU to send 4,000 troops to Somalia as UN opposes


The African Union (AU) will add 4,000 troops to its peacekeepers in Somalia.

AU officials at the group's summit on Tuesday said a cap of 8,100 on troop levels for the force, known as AMISOM, had been lifted and they were mulling whether to give it powers to combat fighters, despite misgivings of some AU members.

Leaders at the meeting, convened in Kampala close to where the suicide bombers struck, sanctioned reinforcements for the currently deployed 6,200 AU peacekeepers who are barely managing to keep Somalia's besieged government in office.

"We are committed to deliver an additional four thousand troops ... From Guinea, we will have one battalion, from IGAD we will have 2,000 troops and Djibouti will send troops immediately," said AU commission chairman Jean Ping.

IGAD is a bloc of East African nations.

"There was a request to move the ceiling of (8,100 troops) up and many other countries are now ready to send troops. Changing the mandate (to allow AMISOM to attack al Shabaab) is still under consideration," Ping said at the summit's close.

Summit diplomats earlier told Reuters the meeting of more than 30 African heads of state might ask the United Nations, which oversees AU peacekeeping missions, to allow AMISOM to chase down al Shabaab after the Uganda attacks tha killed 76 people.

Troops from Uganda and Burundi make up AMISOM. Al Shabaab blamed what it called AMISOM attacks on civilians for its suicide bomb attacks on two Kampala bars packed with hundreds of people watching the World Cup final on July 11.

UN opposition

The top U.S. diplomat in Africa, Johnnie Carson, told reporters the U.N. special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, had told African leaders he was against allowing the peacekeeping troops to attack al Shabaab.

"It was ... Mahiga's view that the mandate that currently exists is sufficiently broad enough to provide the AMISOM forces with the capacity to do the job that is required," Carson said.

Some AU members oppose beefing up the peacekeepers' rules of engagement, citing evidence AMISOM has killed civilians.

The African Union has been asking the United Nations since 2007 to send U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he will "when the time is right".

The AU commission has been pressing more countries including South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Nigeria, Angola, Mauritania and Ghana to provide peacekeepers, summit diplomats said.

At least 21,000 Somalis have been killed in fighting since the start of 2007, 1.5 million have been uprooted from their homes and nearly half a million are sheltering in other countries in the region.

Reuters

Last Mod: 28 Temmuz 2010, 11:48
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