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UN chief lobbies for bigger Amisom force
File | NATION President Kibaki with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon at the UN headquarters in New York.
File | NATION President Kibaki with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon at the UN headquarters in New York. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kenya’s efforts to send troops to Somalia received a major boost after UN boss Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council to expand the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

The UN secretary-general lobbied the powerful council to allow more troops join the peacekeeping force to secure parts of Somalia that have been liberated by the Kenya military and the Transitional Federal Government troops in Operation Linda Nchi.

A statement from the Security Council quoted Mr Ban telling representatives of member states that the withdrawal of insurgents from Mogadishu and their retreat from other parts of the country following Kenya’s military operation presents an opportunity for the international community help stabilise the country.

The UN boss was briefing the council on his visit to Kenya and Somalia last week in New York on Tuesday.

Mr Ban stressed the importance of Amisom being able to station soldiers beyond Mogadishu, which requires that the force be brought to its full strength of 12,000 troops.

The force also needs to be provided with the necessary equipment, including air assets like helicopters, and military engineering capabilities.

“As more territory is liberated, the federal government must strengthen its outreach to the local population and form new regional entities in line with the Transitional Federal Charter.

“On the military front, we must not exclude the incorporation of new forces and the expansion of Amisom,” the UN boss stated.

He added that a joint AU-UN assessment was underway and its proposal would be presented to the council.

Last week, Parliament endorsed the government’s plan to add its troops to the peacekeeping force.

Expressed interest

Besides Kenya, Djibouti, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea governments have expressed their desire to send their troops to the peacekeeping force in Somalia.

Only the UN Security Council is mandated to authorise the sending of additional troops to Amisom.

Currently, only Burundi and Uganda are providing troops to the peacekeeping force.

Mr Ban also echoed an appeal by the African Union for the council to consider more financial and logistical support to Amisom.

“We must also boost our efforts to safeguard civilians and the safety of the relief supply route,” he said.


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