African leaders have moved to bolster peacekeeping efforts in Somalia; agreeing to deploy 20,000 more African Union peacekeepers to the troubled country, following calls by Somali President Sheikh Shariff Sheikh Ahmed for radical actions to be taken in the country.
President Ahmed told the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)- at a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that Somalia was in the hands of al-Qaeda and extremist groups, and that a radical strategy to end the country’s crisis was needed.
According to reports, IGAD identifies a lack of commitment from Somalia’s political class and a lack of commitment from the UN to helping the country out of the political hostility, as a major problem.
The current government backed by the UN and the United States has a mandate that expires in one year, however the country has not met most of its objectives on reconstruction and reconciliation.
The UN-backed government only runs a few parts of the capital, Mogadishu, and the AU troops have been fighting Islamists who control most of southern Somalia.
According to analysts Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda will be willing to risk sending their soldiers to resolve the chaos in Somalia.
IGAD expressed frustration with the Somali leadership’s failure to contain day-to-day violence in the country and also reminded donors about their pledges to finance Somalia’s reconstruction.
President Ahmed made an emotional appeal for an urgent and radical strategy to end the crisis. Like in previous IGAD meetings, the UN was urged to replace the 5,000-strong AU mission. Nevertheless, the UN has agreed in principle but has not set a date for the switch.
Under constant attack from hard-line Islamist groups that control much of southern Somalia, the country has been ravaged by violence for more than two decades now.