Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Africa Union says AMISOM faces financial constraints

AMISOM troops in Somali.Picture Courtesy of AFP
By Joy Nabukewa and Chris Mgidu
Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Africa Union troops which have launched a major onslaught on al Qaida allied group, Al- Shabaab in Somalia are facing a serious financial crisis that may
jeopardize its operations to wipe out the militia in the Horn of Africa nation.

AU Deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha said the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)'s venture into Horn of Africa is expensive affair and appealed for more international aid
to enable the troops complete their mandate of pacifying the country. Mwencha who was speaking during African Leadership Conference in Kenya's port city of Mombasa late
on Monday said the pan African body spends about 45 million U.S. dollars per month. "In the last three years we have spent 300 million dollars to send troops, armored
trucks and tanks, backed by helicopters, into Somalia to mutilate terrorism groups operating in the war tone country of Somalia," he said.

According to AMISOM, Kenya has contributed troops comprising of air force, Navy and Army troops and have concentrated to the pacification efforts in central and lower
Juba part of Somalia also known as sector two.  The other troop contributing nations include Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone for the over 17,000 strong force. 
Mwencha said the current level of funding was shot enough although the pan African body continues to get support from UN Security Council and European Union and other
friendly countries.

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) formally joined the enlarged AMISOM on June at a ceremony held at the Kenyan Department of Defense headquarters in the capital Nairobi.
During the ceremony, a total of 4,664 Kenyan personnel were integrated into AMISOM, bringing the AU peacekeeping force's strength to slightly over 17,000 troops out of a
total authorized strength of 17,731. The re-hatting comes in the wake of the latest terrorist attack blamed on Somalia based Al-Shabaab that killed 17 people and injured more
than 65 others on Sunday in northern Kenya.

Kenya's integration into the continental force was officially solemnized through the change from Kenyan flag to the AU flag. Mwencha noted that the major goal of the AU
troops was to flash out al Qaida-affiliated extremists based in Somalia which pose a significant threat not just to Somalia but to other countries in the region, including Kenya.  
"We have made significant progress since our incursion in Somalia by cutting Al-Shabaab relief supplies and recaptured key stronghold towns and will not surrender,"
Mwencha vowed.

Kismayo, the strategic hub for Al-Shabaab operations, has been a target for the Kenyan troops, who make up the AU contingent in the south of the country, since they
entered Somalia last October. The third annual Africa governance conference is being held in Kenyan city of Mombasa where African leaders are discussing leadership and
governance in Africa.

Meanwhile, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo pointed out poor governance as among the impediment facing development in African continent for many decades
now. Obasanjo told delegates in the conference that many African states cannot achieve their UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015 due to poor governance."The
recently launched 2012 annual report on African progress panel indicates that almost a half of Africans still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day," Obasanjo told the
participants. He said that plans tot reduce child mortality and material death as well as increase access to education were off track.

The ex-Nigerian leader said that the continent has continued to witness a rapid population growth that required proper planning to sustain the increasing numbers. "The
demographic bulge as it exists is a time bomb if adequate and right investments are not made in education, skill acquisition and job creation. Young people's vibrant and
energetic abilities must be capacitated and channeled into positive activities," Obasanjo told participants at the forum.
In another enws Kenya's military has stepped up security along the common border with Somalia following an outbreak of fighting between the government forces and the
Al- Shabaab militia, a military spokesman said.

Kenya's Department of Defense (DoD) Spokesman Bogita Ongeri said the Kenyan forces currently under the command of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
were dealing with specific targets against the Al-Shabaab, but security had been stepped on the Kenyan side of the border. "Our mandate is to specifically deal with Al-
Shabaab but not the civil war in Somalia," Ongeri told Xinhua on telephone on Tuesday following Somali media reports of an intensified fighting in Qanser-Dheere in the Bay
district, which left 18 people dead over the weekend.

Somali media said the troops under the command of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) came under fierce artillery fire from suspected Al-Shabaab militants, but
responded to fire, killing 17 militants. "We have beefed up our security. The Kenyan borders are safe," Ongeri affirmed. Somali militants have stepped up bomb and grenade
attacks on Kenyan non-military targets in the recent past.

Ongeri said it was not clear if the current clashes in Southern Somalia were linked to tribal warfare, but warned that such fighting were beyond the mandate of the Kenyan
Defense Forses (KDF) operating under the AMISOM banner.Somali leaders are currently engaged in plans to end the transitional government and move towards the creation
of a more permanent authority to govern the Horn of African nation. Somali leaders, meeting in Nairobi, signed an accord to work towards the ending of the current TFG
regime, which has been successful lately in battling the militant threat in the Horn of Africa nation. (Xinhua)

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