IGAD ministers pave way for military intervention in Somalia

Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- East African foreign ministers have agreed on a series of new resolutions, paving the way for a regional military intervention in Somalia.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers, whic h met on the sidelines of the Executive Council meeting on Monday night, also ag r eed to the request from the African Union (AU) to change the mandate of its peac e keepers in the Horn of Africa country from peacekeeping to a straight fight with the rebels there.
IGAD also agreed to review its earlier decision banning Somalia’s neighbouring s tates from contributing troops to the Horn of Africa nation.
“The IGAD Council of ministers met last night and agreed on very strong measures on Somalia,” IGAD Executive Secretary Engineer Mahboub Maalim told PANA.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), consisting of some 4,300 troops, has been rendered defenceless as a result of its weak mandate.
The AMISOM bases in parts of Somalia have been the key targets of militant Islam ist groups fighting to dislodge the government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The ministers from the six East African states -- Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sud an, Somalia and Uganda -- met in Sirte, the venue of the 13th session of the AU h eads of state and government assembly, to discuss the latest increase in fightin g in Somalia.
They agreed to review an earlier ban on any military intervention from Somalia's neighbouring states and gave a clear signal of their intention to stop the carn a ge inside Somalia.
They also agreed to seek the enforcement of a no-fly zone inside Somalia to seal off the country from uncontrolled arms shipments.
At the same time, the six IGAD states have also asked the AU to pursue the deplo yment of foreign forces in Somalia in future, if the AU members fail to raise en o ugh troops to intervene inside Somalia.
The measures came only hours after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki appealed to the AU Assembly to take urgent steps during its current Summit to save the governmen t of Somalia from collapse.
The Somali government has been under intense pressure from the militant Islamic groups fighting to dislodge it from power.
The latest fighting in Somalia has pu t Somalia’s neighbouring states on the edge after the intensity of the fighting i n creased substantially, causing discomfort.
There has been concern that foreign jihadists have invaded Somalia to fight side by side with the Al Shabaab militia, a group suspected to have links with the A l Qaeda network.
The measures approved by the IGAD council of ministers would be the subject of d iscussions during an emergency summit of IGAD heads of state, chaired by Ethiopi a n Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Kenyan President and his Somali counterpart, Sheikh Sharif, have all arrived in Sirte, 600 kilometres outside Tripoli, the Libyan capital, for the AU Summit, wh i ch opens on Wednesday.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said on Sunday the organi sation was “open to all options” to end the fighting in Somalia, including autho r izing direct military action from independent states.
“The issue would be put on the table.
We are open to all options.
We will consid er more troops for AMISOM and if this is not possible, we would requiest for dir e ct military intervention,” Ambassador Lamamra told PANA.

30 june 2009 16:15:00




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