Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Somalia focus for African summit

See today's BBC report on Somalia focus for African summit:
On Monday, AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare said peacekeepers were needed to prevent chaos in the country [Somalia].

"If African troops are not in place quickly, then there will be chaos," he said in his opening remarks to the summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "We need 8,000 soldiers, today we have hardly 4,000. We cannot simply wait for others to do the work in our place."

In December, thousands of Ethiopian soldiers were sent to help the weak Somali interim government oust Islamist forces who had controlled much of southern and central Somalia for six months.

But Ethiopia says it is seeking an early withdrawal from the country and has already begun pulling some of its troops out.

The fear, says the BBC's Adam Mynott, is that unless insecurity is contained quickly, then Somalia will slip back to the anarchic misrule which has prevailed in the country for the past 15 years.

So far three countries - Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi - have offered to contribute troops, while a number of other countries are reported to be considering it.

Said Djinnit, the AU's peace and security commissioner, told the BBC that troops from more countries were needed.

"I think we have made some progress because we are at the point where we are putting together conditions for an early deployment of at least the first three battalions," he said.

"And we are also in the process of creating logistical and financial conditions but we do hope that during the debate at the summit there'll be more pledges or more commitment to participate in the African Union mission in Somalia."


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