Its time to enforce peace in Somalia Posted Sunday, July 25 2010 at 00:00
The fight against the al Shabaab terrorists that bombed Kampala has gained momentum with the African Union summit paying specific attention to the region’s security. Two other countries - Djibouti and Guinea – have pledged to send troops to Mogadishu. The additional soldiers will increase the Amisom troop’s number to 8,100 by the end of August, from the current 6,100 fighters from Uganda and Burundi. Algeria has offered to transport the additional troops from Guinea to Mogadishu.
This is a positive development that should be applauded by all AU states and other strategic partners including Europe and the United States of America. The current Amisom and Somali government troops protecting key installations in Mogadishu are too few to deal with the al Shabaab terrorists who are hell bent on killing civilians and causing wanton destruction in the East African region and beyond. To check the terrorists in their tracks, African heads of state meeting in Kampala must act now and act tough. A couple of things have to be done and pretty urgently. First, the leaders must realise that this is not just a Ugandan problem; it is an African and indeed a global security issue which must be dealt with resolutely.
The lackluster trend of paying lip-service on the Somali crisis should be reversed. This demands that African leaders should walk the talk and live up to the promises they make. It’s high time our leaders revisited the AU mission’s mandate in Somalia with a view to changing Amisom’s very limited mandate of only peacekeeping to peace enforcement – with primary objective to eliminate the terrorist cells that have made Somalia one of the most dangerous places on the planet.
On Thursday, Uganda’s Minister for East African Affairs, Mr Eriya Kategaya, told reporters that Uganda and Burundi are ready to deploy extra troops as long as there was support for equipment and salaries for the soldiers. He also said Uganda was also seeking consensus within the AU and IGAD for permission to fight back. But Uganda needs the support of all other African countries. As it is, there is no reason whatsoever, why all the AU member states should fail to rise to the occasion and take this terrorism threat head on. The big boys, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria must also stand up to be counted in the war against al Shabaab.