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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Tuesday 10 May 2005

SOMALIA: IGAD to delay deployment of peacekeepers

KAMPALA, 10 May 2005 (IRIN) - A peacekeeping force scheduled for deployment to Somalia will be delayed as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) attempts to iron out legal limitations and reconcile the divided transitional federal government (TFG), sources said.

"IGAD's charter does not cater for troop deployment, and therefore efforts are underway to have it amended," a senior Uganda government official who preferred anonymity told IRIN on Monday.

"Uganda chairs the regional body and is seeking an IGAD member to move the amendment before the force can be deployed," he added. The force was to have been deployed at the end of April.

Another hindrance to deployment, the official said, was the lack of consensus among many Somalis about the proposed peacekeeping force.

He said the Ugandan government had invited the country’s various faction leaders for a meeting to try and convince them of the importance of an interim government and the need for peacekeepers in Somalia.

In February, the African Union (AU) authorised IGAD – comprised of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda - to send a peace mission to Somalia to enable the TFG to get a foothold in the Horn of Africa nation.

IGAD defence chiefs in March adopted a plan to deploy 10,000 peacekeepers to Somalia beginning on 30 April, a move that attracted fierce opposition from several Somali faction leaders.

"The formulation of an interim government, parliament and all that took place in Nairobi did not trickle down," the official said. "In Somalia the status quo remained."

He said the regional force had no intention of entering Somalia, only to start fighting with the local militias.

"This was supposed to be a peacekeeping mission involving voluntary disarmament, and if we employ forceful disarmament then the [peacekeeping] force will be fighting everybody there," he added.

The region contemplated using the AU charter as a basis for the deployment but also wanted the mission to remain under the IGAD mandate, thus necessitating the amendments.

The source said IGAD was also seeking the blessing of the UN Security Council, which they hoped would give the regional body the mandate required to attract funding from developed countries.

The mission is expected to cost about US $500 million.

Somalia had no central government from 1991 until October 2004, when the TFG was formed in Kenya after two years of IGAD-sponsored peace talks between Somali clans and factions.

The administration has remained in Nairobi because of security concerns, although officials of the new government - most recently the prime minister of the TFG, Ali Muhammad Gedi - have visited the country to build support for their return.


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