Kenya's mandate at IGAD extended

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Kenya will continue to chair the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) until July to facilitate the transformation of an African Union peacekeeping operation into a UN mission, an IGAD Summit on the sidelines of the ingoing African Union meeting here, has concluded.
Kenya will also oversee the deployment of peacekeepers in Somalia, currently being shopped for in various African countries, including Uganda, which has offered 1,500 troops.
Ethiopia had suggested that the leadership of IGAD be given to its Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ahead of the meeting.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju told PANA Monday that Ethiopia had requested to be given the post but the Summit declined citing logistical problems.
"Kenya will be required to make a presentation before the UN on the transformation of the AU force into a UN peacekeeping operation," Tuju told PANA.
"We are not taking the leadership from Ethiopia, but merely extending the term until July.
The reason being Kenya is involved in the modalities for the deployment of the Somali troops and to transfer the responsibilities to another minister might be difficult," Tuju explained.
Sources at the Summit, attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Sudan's Omar el Bashir and Kenya's Mwai Kibaki, said there were objections to Ethiopia's bid for the post, especially after its recent military action in Somalia.
Meanwhile, the IGAD Summit has called for an urgent deployment of the AU troops and called for "speedy and unconditional support" to consolidate peace in Somalia.
The Kenyan minister said also the Summit had also decided to create an independent command for the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) after a meeting of defence ministers from the region endorsed the move.
The new command will now host the EASBRIG, which is currently based at the IGAD headquarters in Djibouti even though some members of the EASBRIG, like Rwanda, do not belong to IGAD, Tuju said.

29 january 2007 17:38:00

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