Wednesday, 2 September 2009

African peacekeepers in Somalia receive 'new mandate': minister

TRIPOLI, Libya Sep 2 (Garowe Online) - A Somali government minister has said that the African Union has made major changes to the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Abdirahman Abdishakur, the Somali Planning and International Cooperation Minister, told reporters Wednesday that AU peacekeepers serving in Mogadishu, known as AMISOM, have been “authorized” to fight alongside Somali government forces.

AMISOM peacekeepers in Mogadishu
Leaders of African countries met in Tripoli, Libya, for an extraordinary summit earlier this week with Somalia and other African conflicts in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo ranking high during the discussions.

Minister Abdishakur, who is part of Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake’s delegation in Tripoli, said the AMISOM mandate has been changed from peacekeeping to “peace-enforcement.”

“African leaders have agreed to assist the Somali government in every sector, especially on security, in order to rescue Somalia from 20 years of war,” Mr. Abdishakur said.

Further, he noted that the new changes to AMISOM include a provision giving the African peacekeepers the greenlight to conduct military operations outside of Mogadishu “if there are threats emerging from other regions.”

The AU originally approved an 8,000-strong AMISOM peacekeeping force for Somalia, but there are around 5,000 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi guarding essential government infrastructure in Mogadishu, including the presidential palace.

AMISOM commanders in Mogadishu, who have not publicly endorsed Minister Abdishakur's statements, were unavailable for comment.

Somali insurgents have routinely attacked AMISOM bases, using guerrilla tactics and suicide bombs. In recent weeks, AMISOM peacekeepers have left their bases on military operations for the first time since the African peacekeepers arrived in Mogadishu in March 2007.

Source: Garowe Online

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