| Issue 373
and Regional Affairs |
NATIONS, March 21, 2009 (AFP) — The UN Security Council gave a stamp of
approval Friday to Somalia's new unity government and urged increased
international aid to African Union (AU) peacekeepers trying to contain
the violence in the lawless country.
After a briefing by Somalia's new foreign minister Mohamed Abdillahi
Omaar, the 15-member body adopted a non-binding statement that welcomed
"the positive political developments and progress" since the UN-brokered
national reconciliation talks in Djbouti last year.
These, it noted, included the election earlier this year of President
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist cleric, the establishment of an
inclusive parliament and the subsequent formation of a unity government
led by Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Shamarke.
The statement said council members "encourage the international
community to extend financial and technical support to the government in
its efforts towards rebuilding vital institutions, especially in the
areas of security and the rule of law."
It praised "the valuable contribution" made by the AU mission in Somalia
(AMISOM) and called on the international community to provide the
mission "additional resources for it to better fulfil its mandate."
Earlier, Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers said London would give an
additional 10 million pounds (14.4 million dollars) to an UN trust fund
"This is in addition to the five million pounds (7.2 million dollars)
that we have already given directly to the African Union for AMISOM,"
Sawers said. "We encourage others also to contribute."
Omaar meanwhile asked the AU to deploy three additional battalions of
Ugandan and Burundian troops to beef up its mission.
"This needs to be undertaken immediately with improved equipment,
logistics and medical facilities," he added.
AMISOM comprises Ugandan and Burundian contingents totaling around 3,400
men in Mogadishu, but has been unable to contain the violence that has
raged since it was deployed in 2007. The AU had initially pledged 8,000
Omaar also urged the Security Council to lift its 17-year arms embargo
to help Somali forces properly equip in their bid to defeat hardline
The Security Council embargo imposed in January 1992 has been constantly
violated with weapons mainly coming from Yemen and financed by Eritrea
as well as Arab and Islamic donors, according to a recent UN report.
Omaar hailed the integration of transitional government troops and a
faction of the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS)
into the Joint Security Forces (JSF) following UN-brokered
reconciliation talks in Djibouti last year.
"If the JSF is to be equipped by the international community to partner
with AMISOM and to secure peace, the embargo on the government has to be
re-addressed," he added.
"The JSF is not funded, resources or equipped up to now. Yet it is the
essential partner of AMISOM for peacekeeping."
Meanwhile the UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah,
hailed the fact that the president, the prime minister, the cabinet and
parliament had all moved back to Mogadishu, the capital. "Somalia is
back from the brink," he said.
He also focused on the issue of rampant piracy off the Somali coast and
welcomed the international naval presence to deter it as "a show of
solidarity with the country and the whole region."
Omaar also stressed the importance of the April 22 Brussels conference,
sponsored by the AU and the UN to raise funds for AMISOM and Somali
"Without these resources, visible and effective demonstration of the
authority of the state and the rule of law will not be achieved and
peace will not be secured," he noted.
Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, was elected president of the war-ravaged
African state only in January following UN-brokered reconciliation talks
but faces a tough task to bring peace to a country wracked by civil war
Islamist fighters including the hardline Shebab militia have waged
battles against the government and its allies since before Ahmed came to
power, vowing to fight until all foreign forces withdraw and sharia law
Somalia has had no effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of
former president Mohamed Siyad Barre.
Copyright © 2009 AFP