Daily Monitor (Kampala) A key Somalia strategy meeting is underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, with military chiefs from across Africa expected to hammer out a plan of action to confront the crisis in the war-torn country.
It was announced yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing AU Summit in Kampala that the African Union and regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) expect their military representatives to assess the resources that will be required to rid Somalia of the terrorist-affiliated al Shabaab militants.
Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Erastus Mwencha told journalists in Munyonyo that Somalia is high on the Summit agenda. He said resolutions from the Addis meeting would be presented to the AU Executive Council sitting in Kampala in three days.
“Our military people are having a meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the strategy and the logistics needed to deal with this Somali situation,” he said. He blamed the delay by other African countries to reinforce Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia on lack of capacity.
“It takes courage, commitment and resources to deploy troops for peacekeeping especially when you hear that those who are there are being killed. The problem has been lack of capacity. Commitment from the member countries exists but they lack resources, nothing else,” he said.
Wake up call
Uganda has about 3,400 troops, whereas Burundi has so far sent 1,600 troops. Nigeria, Malawi and Ghana had pledged forces to make up the initial envisaged 8,000 peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) but have not honoured their pledges. AMISOM has recently been upgraded to an expected 20,000-strong force. Mr Mwencha said the July 11 terrorist attacks in Kampala were “a wake-up call” to African countries to unite and put in place measures to end the 19-year Somalia civil war that threatens regional security.
Piracy and terrorism
The Somali militant group, al- Shabaab, have claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts that left 76 people dead in Kampala. Giving a hint of a possible shift in continental opinion that will likely see Amisom’s peacekeeping mandate changed, Mr Mwencha asked: “What peace is there to keep” in the troubled country?” “That is why we are saying we need at least 20,000 troops in Somalia to ensure peace.
We are calling upon the international community to come and help us. “If we got everything we need in place today, troops will be dispatched to Somalia tomorrow.” “The international community is too far to feel the pinch of the Somalia situation, but we now have piracy and terrorism that are affecting everybody. These are not African problems alone,” said the official.
Following the blasts in Kampala, President Museveni announced that he was ready to commit more troops to deal with the terrorists in Somalia, once cleared by IGAD and other AU member states.
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