[dehai-news] (Reuters): Burundi, Uganda new role for troops in Somalia

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Jan 04 2009 - 13:44:43 EST

Burundi, Uganda new role for troops in Somalia

Sun 4 Jan 2009, 17:51 GMT

By Patrick Nduwimana

BUJUMBURA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Burundi and Uganda said on Sunday they wanted
their troops serving in the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia to
be allowed to take action against insurgents.

Soldiers from the two countries form a 3,200-strong AU force known as AMISOM
that is propping up Somalia's government.

An estimated 3,000 Ethiopian troops have also been aiding the transitional
Somali administration but Addis Ababa has said it will withdraw them from
the anarchic nation.

"First, we want AU to revise AMISOM's mandate so that our troops can lead
offensive attacks against any insurgent group preparing to attack our
positions," said Burundi's Defence Minister Germain Niyoyankana.

"We also want AU to persuade all countries which had accepted to supply
troops to do so," he told reporters after a meeting with his Ugandan
counterpart in Bujumbura.

Analysts say the AU mission is too small to effectively counter insurgent

AU officials say some 2,500 soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Nigeria are
ready to deploy but financial and logistical obstacles have so far prevented
them from effectively replacing the departing Ethiopian soldiers.

Somalia's Western-backed government -- headed by Abdullahi Yusuf for four
years until he resigned last week -- has failed to bring order and security
to a country pummelled by violence since 1991.

Islamist insurgents control southern Somalia and are camped on the fringes
of the capital. The government has only Mogadishu and Baidoa, the seat of
parliament, while feuding warlords hold sway elsewhere.

Niyoyankana said the two eastern African nations asked the AU to update the
force's military equipment and increase its financial support. Failure to do
so could force them to consider withdrawing their troops, he said.

"We are not saying that we are quitting Somalia because this could lead to a
disaster, but this is an urgent request," he said. "We hope AU will quickly
give a positive response to our demands."

Somalia has become the epitome of a failed state and the chaos onshore has
fuelled rampant piracy in the busy shipping lanes off the coast.

More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in two years of Islamist
insurgency, a million people have fled their homes and a third of the
population rely on emergency aid.

Diplomats say the departure of Ethiopian soldiers may take the sting out of
the raging insurgency. (Editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Giles Elgood)

C Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Canada's Africa Oil stops Somali exploration -staff

Sun 4 Jan 2009, 11:17 GMT

By Abdiqani Hassan

DHAROOR, Somalia, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Canadian oil and gas exploration company
Africa Oil Corp <AOI.V> has stopped exploration in Somalia's Puntland region
for lack of funds, local staff and contractors said on Sunday.

The company had started seismic mapping in a region it believed had strong
prospects of holding rich oil deposits like those in geologically similar
Yemen, a neighbour across the Gulf of Aden.

"Africa Oil Corp has failed in its objective ... due to lack of funds,"
Ahmed Ali, a local staff member, told Reuters. "We have not received
salaries for three months. Foreign staff have already flown out and the
company has stopped its operation."

Company management could not be reached for comment.

Africa Oil has rights to 80 percent of the Nugaal and Dharoor blocks and its
joint venture partner, Australian independent Range Resources, holds the

Puntland's semi-autonomous government entered into a production-sharing
agreement with the two companies in January 2007.

A local policeman who worked for Africa Oil's security unit said he and
local colleagues had impounded the company's equipment until their dues were

"They wanted to take their mapping equipment but we shall not give (it to)
them unless they pay all the money," Mohamud Ahmed, a police officer in
charge of security, told Reuters.

Somalia has no proven oil reserves but a joint World Bank and U.N. survey of
northeast Africa 16 years ago ranked it second only to Sudan as the top
prospective producer in the area. (Writing by Abdi Sheikh; Editing by Helen
Nyambura-Mwaura and David Holmes)

C Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.



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