JULY 20, 2010: Countries Lacks Resources for Somali Mission

Countries Lacks Resources for Somali Mission

SOURCE: New Vision

By Anne Mugisa, Henry Mukasa and Milton Olupot

Kampala — AFRICAN countries have failed to join Uganda and Burundi forces in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia due to inadequate resources, the African Union (AU) commission vice-president, Erastus Mwencha, has said.

Mwencha told journalists at the 15th AU summit at Munyonyo yesterday that accusations of lack of commitment and indecision on sending a full-strength AMISOM peacekeeping force to Somali, are false.

Many countries, he explained, could have sent soldiers to the volatile Somalia, but the international community has been too slow in committing resources. He also hinted that national dynamics could delay such a decision.

"Sending our people in harm's way is not a decision that our heads of government can easily make. It takes courage, commitment and resources. There is commitment, the problem is capacity."

"If someone gave us resources today, we would send 20,000 troops to Somalia immediately," Mwencha stated.

"Why isn't the international community committing funds? Maybe they have not felt the pinch yet. It's after piracy that they got interested," he added.

Mwencha was responding to a question on why some strong African nations like Nigeria and Ghana had reneged on their promise to contribute troops to AMISOM.

He said the UN, which should also have sent troops to Somalia, has questioned, "what peace is there to keep?"

"Peace in Somalia will not only benefit Africa, but the whole world by stopping terrorism. We are not doing ourselves a favour. It is an obligation," Mwencha said.

He said the AU's mission was a peaceful, prosperous and integrated continent; and as such had dedicated 2010 as a year of peace.

"We hope to see guns falling silent and allowing peace to be the order of the day.

"We should say, like it was in Europe after the World war, that, 'we don't want to see unconstitutional change of government again. Without peace, there's no development'," he added.

The AU official explained that gathering troops for the peacekeeping missions was not a matter of walking to different countries and making soldiers board a chopper. He said it involved pre-deployment training, imparting doctrine, lessons on securing civilians and identifying the enemy.

Such a scenario, Mwencha said, necessitated a standby force for Africa. He disclosed that the commanders of the East Africa Standby Force were meeting in Addis Ababa in the wake of the July 11 bombings in Kampala to discuss the mandate of the AMISOM forces in Somalia. They will present their resolutions to the heads of state for debate during the AU summit later in the week.

Mwencha cautioned that the AU would not allow members to use nuclear energy for reasons other than peaceful means. "We want Africa to be a nuclear-free zone."

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