The spokesman for the African Union’s Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has welcomed as a positive step in the right direction the decision by African leaders to increase troop levels in the war-torn country.
But, Major Barigye Ba-Huko warned that increasing troop levels is not the solution to the ongoing Somali crisis. The beleaguered Somali leader, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, also welcomed the troop level increase.
“We need to put this increment in perspective. First of all, the increment is in recognition of the fact that the planned troop level in the year 2006 was 8000, and we have never attained that troop level. So, it is in recognition that that troop level, I think, has been approved,” he said.
Ba-Huko also said that the dynamics within the mission area have dramatically changed adding that there was a need to review the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in order to make it more effective.
African heads of state agreed at the African Union summit in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to send 4000 additional troops to help boost the Somali administration.
Backed by the United Nations, AMISOM is mandated by the African Union to support Somalia’s transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the security forces, and assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The Somali government has been battling almost daily hard-line Islamist insurgents who have refused to recognize the administration and have vowed to violently overthrow the government.
AMISOM spokesman Ba-Huko said the troop increase will create the necessary platform that will pave the way for a negotiated settlement to resolve the Somali crisis.
“The troops will work as a catalyst or (to) create an environment for the dialogue to take place for all those who are interested in peace in Somalia, (and) for those who are interested in dialogue in Somalia, to dialogue and go back to the residences, or wherever they come from without fear,” Ba-Huko said.
Currently, the 6000 AMISOM troops in Somalia come from Burundi and Uganda. The increase is expected to raise the troop level to an estimated 10,000.