US re-states support for AU's efforts in Somalia

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Against the background of the daunting challenges facing the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the US Sunday reiterated its support for the peacekeeping force, especially the threat posed to it by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabab terrorist group.
Speaking at the opening of the 15th African Union (AU) summit in Kampala, Uganda, US Attorney-General Eric Holder, who represented US President Barack Obama, noted however that it would take more than just peacekeeping and law enforcement to end the threats posed by terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa nation.
''The United States recognises that ending the threat of Al Shabab to the world will take more than just law enforcement,'' Holder said, warning the terrorist group that the US was resolute in defeating its cause in Somalia.
Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the 11/7 terror attack in Kampala, which killed 76 people and injured scores of others.
''The Al Shabab leaders have claimed responsibility for murdering and injuring these innocent victims and its leaders have infamously described these bombings as warranted acts of vengeance,'' Holder said.
''Make no mistake.
These attacks were nothing more than just reprehensible (blameable) acts of cowardice, inspired by a radical and corrupt ideology.
The Shabab leadership said it carried out the attacks in Uganda to avenge the killing of innocent Somalis by the Ugandan troops in Mogadishu.
While the US reiterated its support for the Somali peacekeeping operation, it has yet to state the nature of the support.
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US policy on Somalia remains ''no boots'', after a horrendous end to its peacekeeping operations there in the 1990s.
AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping told the African leaders gathered here for the Summit that the efforts to end the crisis also required the enlargement of the 6,100 troops already in Mogadishu.
He also called for better military equipment, including the availability of five military helicopters, to enhance the movement of the troops during their peacekeeping.
But there is increasing lobby for the change of AMISOM's mandate from peacekeeping to peace enforcement, to enable the forces to attack rebel positions, since there is no peace agreement or ceasefire agreement to monitor.
But in an earlier interview with PANA, Ping said the change of mandate was not possible in the foreseeable future, due to fears of massive human rights violations.
He said this could lead to a global outcry over civilian deaths.
''Who will take responsibility for authorising the AU forces to attack?'' he asked.

25 july 2010 11:39:00




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