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AU head wants extension for Somalia peace force

Friday, January 18, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The African Union (AU) Commission's chairman recommended on Friday a six-month extension for a peacekeeping force in Somalia and lashed out at member states for failing to honour pledges for troops.

A 3,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been carrying out peacekeeping duties in Mogadishu, where Islamist insurgents have been fighting an interim government. Near daily clashes in the capital killed 6,500 civilians in 2007.

"It is my earnest hope that the Peace and Security Council ... adopt my recommendation to extend the mandate of AMISOM for another period of six months," Chairman Alpha Konare said in a report on Somalia.

Only troops from Uganda and Burundi are in Somalia, although the AU wanted 8,000 for the city that is a byword for anarchy.

"To date, the pledges made by member states to contribute troops for AMISOM represent only a little over half of the authorised strength, depriving AMISOM to live up to its responsibilities towards Somalia and its people," he said.

Konare also accused the international community of failing to support the force financially and asked the UN to authorise its own force to replace AMISOM.

"In spite of numerous appeals made by the AU echoed by UN Security Council in several resolutions, the financial and logistical support mobilised so far is far short of what is required to fully deploy the mission," he said.

Konare asked Somali's transitional government, led by President Abdullahi Yusuf, to adopt an inclusive approach that would appeal to Somalis that reject violence.

More than 600,000 people have fled their homes due to fighting that erupted when Yusuf's government, with the aid of Ethiopian troops, unseated an Islamist movement from Mogadishu.

Source: Reuters, Jan 18, 2008


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