Ethiopia: AU receives more cash to bolster Somali peacekeeping

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) has received nearly half of the 360 million Euros it expects from the European Union (EU) to finance the peace enforcement operation in Somalia, a senior AU official said Friday.

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, said an agreement for the release of the budget covering the operations of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was signed on 21 Sept. with the EU.

"The latest contract covers the period from 1 January to 30 September 2016 and provides funds amounting to 178 million Euro. The EU fund will be used to cover allowances for AMISOM troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, as well as operational costs of the Mission," Ambassador Chergui said in a statement.

AMISOM has 22,000 troops serving inside Somalia drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and hosts Somalia. The expanded mission has been aiming to capture territory and expand the regions under the Mogadishu-based government's control.

However, sources told PANA the EU appeared disturbed by the apparent lack of good progress in eradicating the Al Shabaab menace inside Somalia amid huge operating budget.

Experts, however, blame the lack of good operational progress in Somalia, on the high number of commanding officers drawing salaries at the AU, as opposed to an expenditure on ground troops to enhance ground operations.

"It should be reiterated that this renewed financial support to AMISOM comes at a critical moment when AMISOM is engaged in major offensive operations and the preparation of the elections in Somalia," Chergui said.

The AU and EU officials signed the 15th contract for financial support to AMISOM after months of uncertainty over EU's budget cuts which the AU Summit and regional bodies feared might derail efforts to combat the Al Shabaab threat in Somalia.

The AMISOM operation has been mostly funded by a Euros 1.1 billion budget from which the AU has been drawing around 360 million Euros to meet the cost of running the operations.

The EU, which has long-demanded "burden-sharing" has been calling on the AU to seek alternative sources of financing the operation in Somalia.

To finance the operation, the AU has been planning to have a peace fund up and running by 2017, where the member states would make contributions to run the peace operations within the continent.

Reacting to the latest release of funds, the African Union termed the signing of the 15th agreement an "encouraging development."

"The AU welcomes this encouraging development which is the result of the continuous and fruitful consultations between AU and EU on the enhancement of the logistical and financial support to AMISOM," Chergui said.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 23Sept2016

23 september 2016 15:59:14

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