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African Union approves 20,000 troops for Somalia

Afrique en ligne
Saturday, October 16, 2010

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union on Friday announced here that more troops would be deployed to Somalia in few weeks, while the 20,000 maximum troops for Somalia peacekeeping, proposed by IGAD, has been authorized as official AU target.

A battalion from Burundi would be deployed in few weeks, raising the current over 7,000 AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops to the long-awaited 8,000, Ramtane Lamamra, PSC Commissioner, told a news conference at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa at the end of a ministerial meeting on Somalia.

The proposal to raise AMISOM's troop size from its initially authorized 8,000 to 20,000 was proposed by the East African grouping' the Inter Governmental Au thority on Development (IGAD) â' in July, just few days ahead of the AU summit in Kampala.

The summit endorsed it but it has just become, on Friday, the official authorized troop size for AMISOM.

According to Lamamra, following the deployment of the Burundian battalion, about 4,000 soldiers drawn from Djibouti, Guinea, Uganda, Burundi and other troop contributing countries would be deployed to Somalia in few months.

Uganda alone volunteered to contribute up to 20,000 troops but AU has been challenged by lack of logistics, modern equipments and finance that it blamed on reluctance from UN, EU and world powers like the US.

AMISOM also has to have enabling components like air force, maritime, intelligence and police units, with 140 personnel each, to develop and support the Somali police force, Lamamra told Foreign Ministers attending the meeting.

The PSC has also decided to request the UN Security Council to revise the mandates of AMISOM at its meeting on 21 October.

AU also wants UN to make sure AMISOM has the logistical capacity equivalent to peacekeeping missions in DR Congo and Sudan, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, who chaired the meeting said.

'We need equipments that we have seen elsewhere,' Wetangula said, referring to multiple helicopters and modern weaponry that helped UN missions in DR Congo and elsewhere easily overcome insurgency resistances.

'We have noticed Uganda's readiness to deploy the entire 20,000 troops. But for them to go to Somalia, they need resources...equipment and commitments. Commitments for rations...for stipend for the soldiers and commitments to equip them; not just with Kalashnikovs and 3Gs,' the Kenyan Foreign Minister added.

Source: Afrique en ligne