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UN Extends African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia


The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution extending its authorization of the African Union's mission in Somalia for another six months. It also calls for the U.N. to develop plans for a possible deployment of U.N. troops to Somalia. But some diplomats say the resolution passed Monday does not go far enough. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the United Nations bureau in New York.

South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo says he voted for the resolution, but adds he was not enthusiastic about it. Kumalo said he had expected the Security Council to make a firm decision about deploying U.N. peacekeeping troops to Somalia to supplement the African Union mission there.

"The African Union, it's like, when your house is on fire, you know, the neighbors come with the buckets of water, but the neighbors are not the fire engine," he said. "You know, the fire engine is the United Nations. So we want to see the United Nations getting involved on the ground in Somalia because that issue belongs to the United Nations. It cannot be left only to the African Union."

The AU has pledged 8,000 troops to a peacekeeping mission. But, six months in, fewer than one-quarter of them have arrived. There are currently 1,700 AU troops, all from Uganda.

Kumalo says the AU does not have the resources necessary to broker or maintain peace in Somalia. The nation has not had an effective, stable government since 1991.

The Security Council's Congolese president, Pascal Gayama, also expressed mixed feelings about the resolution.

"In my national capacity, of course, I share the view espoused by Ambassador Kumalo," he said.

Gayama says the U.N. should provide logistical, financial, and technical support for the AU mission, as the African Union has requested.

But Gayama also calls the resolution an important decision. He says the Council has asked the Secretary General to consult with the head of the African Union to discuss additional ways the U.N. can help the mission. Also, the Council asked the U.N. to further develop plans for a possible deployment of U.N. troops to Somalia.

Last week, the secretary-general's special envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, said U.N. peacekeepers could replace AU troops when the African Union's extended mandate expires early next year. He added that AU officials expect this to be the case.

But, Fall says before that can happen, progress must be made in the nation's peace talks.

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