Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 6 News List

US pushes for UN forces in Somalia

CHAPTER 7 The US draft resolution asks Ban Ki-moon to submit a report by April 15 on developments in Somalia and progress on deployment of the African Union force

AP , UNITED NATIONS

The US circulated a draft resolution calling for a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia to replace a small African Union force, but leaving the Security Council to make a final decision by June 1.

The draft resolution would renew the mandate of the African Union force, known as AMISOM, for six months and urge African nations to beef up its troop strength from the current 2,600 to the 8,000 originally authorized.

It expresses the council’s “intent to establish a UN Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia as a follow-on force to AMISOM, subject to a further decision of the Security Council by June 1, 2009.”

The resolution is drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is militarily enforceable, and declares that “the situation in Somalia constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region.”

The African Union and the US have been pushing for months for a UN peacekeeping force, but finding troops for a multinational force initially envisioned as a precursor to a UN operation has been impossible.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month he had asked at least 50 nations and three international organizations to support the council’s request for a multinational force to stabilize Somalia and the replies were “very lukewarm or negative.”

The Horn of Africa nation is currently at a dangerous crossroads. The president resigned late last month, saying he has lost most of the country to Islamic insurgents, and the Ethiopian troops who have been protecting the fragile, UN-backed government have begun pulling out, leaving a dangerous power vacuum. Islamic groups are starting to fight among themselves for power.

Somalia has been beset by 18 years of anarchy, violence and an Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing for their lives. Foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms, and the US fears the country could become a haven for al-Qaeda.

The US draft resolution asks Ban to submit a report by April 15 on political and security developments in Somalia and progress toward full deployment of the African Union force “with a view to transition” to a UN peacekeeping force.

In the report, it says Ban should also develop the mandate for a UN force including facilitating delivery of humanitarian aid, monitoring a cease-fire and assisting “in supporting the effective re-establishment and training of inclusive Somali security forces, including military, police and judiciary.”

The draft envisions that ultimately Somali security forces “would assume full responsibility for providing security in Somalia.”

Under its provisions, the secretary-general would establish a trust fund to provide financial support for the African Union force until a UN force is deployed and to assist in restarting the training of a Somali security force.

Last year, Somalia’s weak transitional government agreed to share power with a faction of the country’s opposition, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, a relatively moderate group that split from the al-Shabab extremist group which has been at the center of the insurgency.

The agreement has not changed the political chaos in Somalia because al-Shabab, which the US considers a terrorist organization, did not participate in the UN-brokered talks.

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