Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) – The Inter--Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary Dr Atallah Bashir Saturday met foreign ministers from the seven member countries of the regional body to discuss the security situation in Somalia.
Ministers from IGAD members, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia attended the meeting held on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) 10th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (foreign ministers), which gives way here to the continental body's Eighth Ordinary Summit 29-30 January.
Somali Foreign Minister Ismael Hurreh said his government was expecting the deployment of African troops in "a few weeks time", adding that Somalia occupies an "important corner" of Africa, which should act as a frontier for continental trade, but which has been dogged by years of conflict.
An 8,000-strong African peacekeeping force has been proposed for Somalia to help the country's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) establish itself after its forces, with the help of Ethiopia, routed the Union of Islamic Courts in December.
Already, Uganda has agreed to contribute 1,500 troops and is awaiting logistics.
Other countries willing to contribute troops include Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Malawi.
The IGAD ministerial meeting came a day after AU Commission Chairman Alpha Konare blasted African countries for their slow pace in responding to the Somali crisis, warning that only the deployment of an African force would help save the situation.