US, EU and AU urged to boost support to TFG and African forces in Somalia.

Halkaan ka akhri

A summit of the East African Community on Tuesday urged the United States and the European Union to step up their support for AMISOM, the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia.

“The summit called upon the international community, in particular the US and the European Union, to enhance their support to AMISON including addressing the piracy menace,” a final communique said.

The EAC, which groups Tanzania with Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, also “commended Burundi and Uganda for the sacrifices borne out of their efforts to restore stability” in Somalia.

The 9,000-strong force of Ugandan and Burundian troops deployed to protect the ailing Somali transitional federal government (TFG) has over the past five months regained significant ground in central Mogadishu.

The TFG and AMISOM had long been confined to a few blocks, unable to take the battle to the Shebab, an Islamist insurgent movement that has controlled most of the Horn of Africa country for two years.

AMISOM now controls around half of Mogadishu and is gradually tightening its grip around Bakara market, the heart of the capital’s economic activity and a crucial source of funds for the Shebab.

AMISOM top commander General Nathan Mugisha earlier this month said this was a turning point in the conflict and urged the world to help AMISOM break the back of the Islamist insurgency.

Despite an increased international military presence off Somalia’s coastline pirate attacks have surged and they have raked in huge ransoms.

A total of 97 attacks were recorded off Somalia in the first quarter of this year, up from 35 in the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report last week.

Participants in Tuesday’s summit in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam also backed the AU position in favour of extending the TFG’s mandate for a year.

The Kenyan, Burundian, Ugandan and Tanzanian presidents Mwai Kibaki, Pierre Nkurunziza, Yoweri Museveni and Jakaya Kikwete attended the summit, while Rwanda was represented by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

The heads of state and government approved the nomination of Rwandan Health Minister Richard Sezibera as the next EAC secretary general.

ON THE OTHER HAND The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra has appealed to the International Community to assist the Transitional Federal Government and the local administrations to recognize each other’s role as stipulated in the Transitional Federal Charter.

Speaking today during the policy-oriented round table on Somalia in Rome, Italy, Ambassador Diarra said this would also strengthen the Government’s ability to co-ordinate the reconciliation process at the local level.
“International support is pivotal; there is a need for long-term commitment from the international community to ensure that the outcomes of the peace process are implemented and the Somali institutions are fully supported to efficiently execute their mandate.” Ambassador Diarra said.

The AU Special Representative noted that there is no quick fix solution to all the problems facing Somalia, but said resolving the issues related to the end of the transition and the post-transition arrangements would be the starting point.

Ambassador Diarra told the one day Round Table on Somalia organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the International Community must also consider establishing mechanism for implementing sanctions and other punitive measures against spoilers of the peace process.

“Somalia is the only country in the world where people instigate wars, commit crimes against humanity and are not bothered. The sooner the message is sent to the people of Somalia that sanctions are available and ready for use, I believe the attitudes will change and the chance for positive political settlement will increase,” the AMISOM Head of mission emphasized.

He commended the Italian Government for its support to AMISOM, through the Africa Peace Facility, noting that this assistance has significantly contributed to implementation of the mission’s mandate.

The Round Table was introduced by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Somali Ambassador to Italy. The forum discusses policy-making options on the stabilization process in Somali and the role of the International Community. Participants included Italian policy makers, senior officials of international organizations, representatives of the Somali Diaspora, and analysts from major European and international think tanks.

Source: AU info Desk and AFP

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