Fri, Jan 07, 2005 - Page 6 News List

African Union agrees to deploy forces to Somalia

AFP , ADDIS ABABA

The African Union has agreed in principle to deploy a peace support mission in the troubled Horn of Africa state of Somalia, the AU said in a statement yesterday.

The mission, which will be the first multinational force in Somalia since the end of a failed UN-mandated intervention in 1995, is expected to help install the country's transitional government, so far based in neighboring Kenya for security reasons.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC) "accepts in principle the deployment of an AU Peace Support Mission in Somalia," said the statement, released after the body met on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, where the pan-African body has its headquarters.

The PSC also approved "the establishment of an AU Advance Mission to be based in Nairobi that will ensure liaison" between the recently-formed Somali government and other partners to "undertake preparatory steps for the deployment of an AU Peace Support Mission as soon as possible," the statement said.

Somalia has been effectively without a central government since dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991. In October, however, a parliament and presidency were set up in neighboring Kenya, pending their hoped-for installation in the Somali capital Mogadishu once the security situation there improves. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected president on Oct. 10 by the new parliament.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Gedi is expected to name his government this week, also in Nairobi, after the country's parliament sacked the first one that was formed in December.

In its statement, the AU urged the Somali government "to effect appropriate arrangements and all such necessary legislative enactments, including security arrangement, in order to facilitate the deployment of the African Union Support Mission for Somalia."

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