Burundi Troop Deployment to Bolster Somali Peacekeeping Force Within Weeks

Published: October 16, 2010

Somalia’s African Union peacekeeping force will be bolstered by an extra 800 troops from Burundi within a “matter of weeks,” according to Ramtane Lamamra, the Commissioner of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
A further 4,000 soldiers will then be deployed to the war- torn Horn of Africa nation within “months,” he told reporters after a meeting today in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
The current African Union force of 7,200 troops consists of eight battalions, five from Uganda and three from Burundi, while Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Guinea may also provide soldiers.
Somalia hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The Western-backed Transitional Federal Government has been battling insurgents since 2007.
Most of southern and central Somalia has been seized by the rebels, while President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government controls only parts of the capital, Mogadishu. The AU’s Peace and Security Council plans to eventually raise the number of peacekeepers in Somalia to 20,000.
The security situation in Somalia is “dangerous and perilous,” and there’s a need for the United Nations to be involved in Somalia “as it has been in Sudan and Congo,” Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, chairman of the council, told reporters today.
‘Recurrent Wrangling’
The “idea of the United Nations taking over hasn’t been abandoned,” Augustine Mahiga, the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said at the meeting. The proposal is “still on the table.”
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed yesterday appointed Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as prime minister, after his predecessor, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, resigned after repeated clashes with the president.
Progress in Somalia has been “challenged by recurrent and intermittent wrangling” amongst members of the transitional government, Wetangula said in his report, handed to reporters today.
Source: Bloomberg

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