The Islamic Post Blog

More Unrest In Somalia by Khalida
January 2, 2009, 7:53 am
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, World | Tags:

By Muhammad Hasib

Islamic Post Staff Writer

African Union head, Jean Ping, has expressed his opposition to African Union peacekeepers being withdrawn from what is widely seen as an uncontrollable Somalia.  Ping emphasized that this was “something unacceptable.”
At a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, Ping was optimistic that  the AU  could find time from its strained schedule to address and avoid the seemingly unpopular suggestion that the 3,400 Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers would be leaving the country  this month.
African Union members and numerous governments worldwide did not expect the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s statement to parliament,  which cited the desire of both countries to quickly withdraw their troops.
According to Ping, the African Union was focusing on making serious diplomatic efforts to increase forces so as to offset  the planned pullout of Ethiopian forces this month. “We have asked the African countries to increase their participation in Somalia, asked the UNSC (UN Security Council) to join us there, and to the AU partners to help us financing this force… A withdrawal from Somalia is something we cannot accept, not only the AU, but also the rest of the world,” he said. The withdrawal this month will leave the ill-equipped and under-staffed peacekeeping force on its own to face a growing opposition from rebel forces.
Ping remarked that certain  conditions must be met before a withdrawal because of the absence of a political agreement between Somalia’s warring factions, and the continued absence of reinforcements for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)peacekeeping force. The force was to originally have a full operational strength of 8,000.
Ethiopia has said it is prepared to delay its pullout by a “few days” in January so as not to expose the AU forces to an onslaught by the Shebab –the insurgents who control large parts of Somalia and have been closing in on Mogadishu.  The AU has meanwhile been scrambling to avoid a “security vacuum” in Somalia, which has been without a well-functioning government since 1991. Ping has called on the UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of UN forces instead.


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