As the 15th AU summit closed today in Kampala, African Union chairman, also president of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika said that the big turn up despite recent bomb blasts in Uganda is a sign of solidarity among African countries.
Al-Shabab’s plan to create fear in African and dissuade Uganda and Burundi, the only two African nations to have sent peace keeping troops to Somalia until now, from their security efforts in Somalia may have well backfired after the AU chairman said that the Horn of Africa issue was no longer for Uganda and Burundi, or Africa alone but the whole world.
As a result of the recent Uganda attacks, the pan-African bloc has moved to bolster AU forces to its full strength of 8,000. According to Bingu wa Mutharika, the AU has requested “five choppers” from USA, UK and France to enhance AU troops’ military capabilities in their fight against al-Shabab extremism in Somalia.
“We need necessary equipments if the mandate is changed to offensive,” insisting that although at the moment the mandate does not allow AU troops to attack al-Shabab, the troops can do so if they deem it necessary in order to stop attacks from the extremist militants.
“The mandate is optional. The Africa Union forces on their own are taking
action that al-Shabab forces do not make advances. Attacking is to be determined by people on the ground,” he said.
Shortly after 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 assuring that his service will soon reach the authorized strength of 8,000″ men. And “Uganda,” according to him, “is willing to remain there until such a time as the mission is fully accomplished”.
During the summit, AU commission chairman, Jean Ping said that Djibouti and Guinea were ready to deploy a battalion each to Mogadishu to boost the African Union peacekeeping force in the Somali capital. “Djibouti’s battalion has been ready for sometime. We are going to quickly top the 8,000 mark,” Ping told AU members.