[dehai-news] (Reuters): INTERVIEW-AU calls for quick reinforcement of Somalia force

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Feb 09 2009 - 08:42:19 EST

INTERVIEW-AU calls for quick reinforcement of Somalia force

Mon Feb 9, 2009 1:07pm GMT


By Frank Nyakairu

NAIROBI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A small African Union peacekeeping mission in
Mogadishu must be reinforced fast to capitalise on the arrival of a new
Somali president, the AU said on Monday.

Nicolas Bwakira, the AU's special representative for the Horn of Africa
nation, said Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's election at United Nations-led talks in
Djibouti provided a rare opportunity for peace in the country, which has
been at war for 18 years.

"Now that there is an expanded parliament and a new president, we feel we
have to accelerate the implementation of AMISOM activities," Bwakira told
Reuters in an interview.

The AU force in Mogadishu, AMISOM, currently has about 3,200 soldiers from
Uganda and Burundi.

Bwakira said the AU would help Ahmed reach out to the warring parties, and
would also provide funding to pay the salaries of 2,700 paramilitaries to
boost security in the bomb-wrecked city.

At a news conference at police headquarters in Mogadishu on Monday, Ahmed
called for international aid and urged civilians uprooted by two years of
fighting to return home.

Insurgents fired mortar bombs at the presidential palace on Saturday, hours
after Ahmed returned to the city after being feted at an AU summit in

Bwakira said Uganda and Burundi would deploy two more battalions of 850 men
before the end the of month, bringing AMISOM's strength to 5,100 -- although
still short of the planned 8,000.

Nigeria still said it was sending a long-delayed battalion too, but needed
logistical support, he said.

Many countries have been loath to send troops to a nation where two years of
fighting has killed more than 16,000 civilians and driven another 1 million
from their homes.

Ahmed was the more moderate of two leaders of a sharia courts group that
brought some stability to Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia in 2006,
before Washington's main regional ally, Ethiopia, invaded to oust them.

Ethiopia's military withdrew last month, clearing the way for Ahmed's
election in Djibouti a week ago.

He is opposed by hardline Islamist rebels including the al Shabaab group,
which Washington accuses of links to al Qaeda. (Additional reporting by Abdi
Guled and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sophie

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


         ----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2009
All rights reserved