UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: African Union endorses deployment of 1,700 peacekeepers
ADDIS ABABA, 13 May 2005 (IRIN) - A 1,700-strong peacekeeping force will be deployed to Somalia within weeks to facilitate the return of the transitional government from its present base in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, officials said on Thursday.
The force will be made up of Ugandan and Sudanese troops, and it is expected to be deployed for six to nine months at a cost of US $102 million, the African Union (AU) said.
It will initially operate under the mandate of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) until the AU takes over.
Said Djinnit, AU commissioner for peace and security, appealed to the international community to provide financial and logistical support to the mission.
"We have been campaigning as the AU for the need to support the Somalis," he told reporters in Addis Ababa on Thursday. "To date we have got nothing. We should give peace a chance."
He added: "The time frame [for deployment] is within weeks."
Somalia's Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi told reporters that the transitional government expected to return to the war-shattered country by the end of May.
"We need the deployment of IGAD troops as a government," he said during a break at the Peace and Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa. "The last date of our stay in Kenya is 31 May. We want to go before that.
"Somalia is insecure," he added. "We knew that when we took the responsibility of government. So we have to address it. We have to work for our people and meet their expectations.
"Reconstruction will start after the stabilisation and pacification of the country. We are expecting within nine months we will stabilise the country."
Somalia has had no effective central government since clan-based faction leaders overthrew former President Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991. Subsequent fighting divided the country into fiefdoms.
Following lengthy negotiations sponsored by IGAD, a transitional government was established in Nairobi in October 2004. That government has remained in Nairobi because of insecurity in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
On Wednesday, the Somali parliament in Nairobi ratified the government's decision to allow the peacekeeping force into Somalia, as well as its plans to relocate the government to the towns of Baidoa and Jowhar, where it will operate temporarily.
Some MPs, however, said the meeting had been unlawful. They scheduled another session in Mogadishu on 17 May to discuss the same issue.
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