Somalia’s neighbours seek right to intervene – ADDIS ABABA (AFP)
Somalia’s neighbours on Friday sought to remove obstacles to a possible intervention to support the ailing government in Mogadishu during a regional summit in Addis Ababa.
The six-member Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held talks in the Ethiopian capital to reiterate its support for the transitional federal government (TFG) led by Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
“There is … a need to facilitate conditions that will make it possible for the neighbouring countries to avail their support to the TFG more effectively and in a more helpful way,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said.
The mandate of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as defined by the United Nations Security Council stipulates that neighbouring nations cannot contribute to the force.
Sharif, a young Islamist leader, was elected in January following a UN-sponsored reconciliation process and seen by the international community as the best chance of ending Somalia’s 18-year-old civil conflict.
His administration however has so far failed to assert its authority on the country, even losing grounds to a fierce insurgency led by the hardline Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab armed group and the more political Hezb al-Islam.
Clinging to power by its fingernails, Sharif’s TFG has appealed for foreign military intervention to fend off insurgents.
IGAD’s special envoy to Somalia, Kipruto arap Kirwa, argued that the UN resolution should be amended to authorise countries such as Kenya and Djibouti to send troops and beef up the 4,300 Burundians and Ugandans already deployed.
“The UN by continuing to have this resolution in place is indirectly supporting the terrorists as it is not taking bold measures to address challenges facing the TFG,” he said.
Djibouti has already pledged a full battalion of 450 soldiers to be deployed as soon as the UN resolution is modified.
Djibouti “has promised a battalion of 450 men for AMISOM as soon as the restrictions in the mandate preventing neighbouring countries from contributing are lifted,” the small coastal state’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, told AFP.
When the AU peacekeeping force was created in 2007, member states had pledged a total of 8,000 troops.