SOMALIA: IGAD meeting asks for more details on proposed peace mission
KAMPALA, 9 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Senior defence officials from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Tuesday asked the African Union (AU) for further details about the proposed peace mission to Somalia.
"We need guidance from members of the AU [African Union] Commission to throw more light on what was discussed and agreed on in Abuja as far as the peace mission for Somalia is concerned," Aronda Nyakairima, Uganda's army commander, said at the official opening of the conference of IGAD defence experts.
"There are some issues which are not very clear to us and they include the following: troops contributing countries, mandate of the mission, size of the mission [and] its funding and logistics," he added.
In February, the AU authorized IGAD - which comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda - to prepare to send a peace mission to Somalia. Its purpose would be to help the country's transitional federal government (TFG) get a foothold there when it relocates from Nairobi, Kenya.
A fact-finding trip to Somalia was recently undertaken by IGAD and AU officials, who were charged with looking into the logistics of the peacekeeping mission. Nyakairima said that the fact-finding party's report would be handed over to IGAD defence ministers participating in the meeting later in the week.
Although the TFG itself requested the peacekeeping force, strong opposition has been reported in Somalia to troops from the country's immediate neighbours.
The international community, including the United States and the think-tank, International Crisis Group, has also expressed concerns about including troops from neighbouring countries without the approval of the Somali people.
Nyakairima asked members of the TFG present at the meeting to brief delegates about the current situation in Somalia and "their security needs".
IGAD sponsored two years of peace talks between various Somali clans and factions, culminating in the formation of the TFG in Kenya in October 2004. However, since then the government has been forced to remain in Nairobi due to security concerns.