AU chief urges Africans to send more troops to Somalia

President of Tanzania

Halkaan ka akhri

KAMPALA (AFP) – African Union chief Jakaya Kikwete and Uganda‘s president have called on African countries to send more troops to Somalia to stabilize the volatile country and strengthen an AU force on the ground.

During a meeting Kikwete and Yoweri Museveni, whose country provides the largest number of men for the Somali peacekeeping force, agreed on “the need for more troops for AMISOM, and appealed to the countries that pledged troops to fulfill their pledges,” said a Ugandan statement made available to AFP late Friday.

AMISOM has been deployed in Somalia since March 2007 and is to ultimately number 8,000 men. It is currently made up of 1,650 Ugandan troops and 850 soldiers from Burundi.

Kikwete, who is also president of Tanzania, held talks with Museveni on a variety of issues in the Ugandan capital Wednesday and Thursday including prospects for a regional summit on strife-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Kikwete and Museveni agreed to urgently convene a meeting to address the issue of negative forces in Eastern DRC,” the statement said.

They also “noted with concern the recent hostilities in violation of (a) 2006 ceasefire agreement” in Burundi.

Three years after a civil war that claimed 300,000 lives in the small central African country, the rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) signed a second peace deal with newly elected authorities in September 2006, but it has yet to be implemented.

Burundi is still struggling to recover from the war that began in 1993, mainly pitting rebels from the Hutu majority population against the Tutsi minority, which then dominated the army.

A power-sharing government was formed in 2001, while conflict was still taking place, and South Africa mediated among the different sides, until almost all the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire.

The AU chief and Museveni “reaffirmed their efforts to steer the implementation of the agreement”.

The two leaders called on Ugandas Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel chief Joseph Kony sign a final peace agreement.

Signing of the peace accord between Kampala and the LRA, which had been scheduled for early April, was put off because of Kony’s absence. The rebel chief is wanted under an international arrest warrant.

The agreement was to put an official end to a 20-year civil war which left tens of thousands dead and displaced nearly two million people.

Sources AFP

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