Tuesday, November 15, 2011

East African defence ministers meet on Somali crisis - Africa |nation.co.ke

Uganda Amisom soldiers holding their position in Mogadishu. Photo/FILE

Uganda Amisom soldiers holding their position in Mogadishu. Photo/FILE

Posted Monday, November 14 2011 at 16:03

Countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are set to meet Monday alongside regional nations to discuss the future of the mission.

African Union spokeswoman Lulit Kebede said defence ministers from Uganda and Burundi, which both have troops in Somalia, and "interested countries" Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia will attend the closed meeting.

"The meeting should address the matters relating to the political, security and military operations in Somalia and to AMISOM ... and the way forward on the situation in Somalia," according to a statement.

The ministers, meeting in the Ethiopian capital from 1300 GMT, will also discuss a UN resolution on maintaining the mission until October 2012.

The AMISOM force is made up of 9,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi.

Djibouti and Sierra Leone have pledged to contribute additional soldiers, which would bring the total number of troops to 10,700.

The AU force is tasked to protect the Western-backed Somali government against Islamist Shebab rebels, and first deployed in 2007.

After years of hard battles the force controls only Somali's anarchic capital, and has repeatedly called for a troop increase.

The UN last year approved an additional 3,000 troops for the force, but the soldiers are yet to be deployed and funding remains difficult.

Kenya last month sent troops and tanks across the border into Shebab-controlled southern Somalia to battle the insurgents it blames for a spate of attacks on its territory, including kidnapping foreigners.

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