Somalia: Military reinforcements from African nations begin

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Flag of Somalia
Flag of Somalia

AU commission chairman, Jean Ping has said that two African states, Djibouti and Guinea are ready to immediately deploy a battalion each to Mogadishu to boost the meagre African Union peacekeeping force in the Somali capital. Shortly after the Kampala blasts, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra had announced that the attacks have strengthened the continent’s resolve to stamp out Al-Shebab.

The African Union chief said the two thousand troops to be sent by the two African states will go a long way in improving on the state of security in Mogadishu and Somalia at large.

“Guinea and Djibouti are ready to immediately dispatch a battalion each to Somalia. Guinea is preparing the battalion. Djibouti’s battalion has been ready for sometime. We are going to quickly top the 8,000 mark,” Ping said.

Of all the over 50 African countries in the Union, only Uganda and Burundi have sent peace keeping troops to Somalia. The two east African countries have been operating in the Horn of Africa country for over two years. So far Uganda has lost over 15 soldiers and Burundi 4, killed in Mogadishu by El Shabab rebels.

Among the countries which had promised to send troops to Somalia are Nigeria and Mozambique. However, their promises to send their troops to Somalia have until now not been kept leaving the burden of securing Somlia’s capital, Mogadishu, to Uganda and Burundi troops.

It is expected that the on-going AU summit in Kampala Uganda will see more countries committing themselves to send reinforcements to sore up AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM.

In a recent interview, AMISOM spokesman Maj. Ba-Hoku Barigye in Mogadishu, told the Daily Monitor that reinforcements were “important to achieve the troop levels (8,000) planned for the mission in 2006”. According to him, considering the “current dynamics, challenges and threats” these reinforcements should bring the required capacity for the AU to deliver on the Somali mission.

Following the Kampala blasts, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra announced that the attacks have strengthened the continent’s resolve to stamp out Al-Shebab, while stressing that his serivce “will be submitting a report to the [AU] Peace and Security Council in the near future to say the authorized strength of 8,000 has been duly reached. Uganda is willing to remain there until such a time as the mission is fully accomplished”.

According to the Voice Of America, the East African regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development this month suggested that 20,000 troops might be needed to save Somalia from falling into the hands of extremists.

El Shabab militants are not happy with the presence of Uganda and Burundi troops in Somalia and have threatened to punish the two countries. Their threats came to reality when they claimed that the recent twin bombs in Kampala that caused the deaths of at least 76 people were planted by them.

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