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AU Approves Peace Mission for Somalia

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On the heels of Wednesday's African Union approval in principal of a peace support mission for Somalia, Uganda is already offering troops for the venture.

The chairman of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, Geoffrey Mugumya, told VOA Thursday Uganda has offered to provide 2,000  troops to the AU's peace support mission for Somalia.

Mr. Mugumya describes the African Union's vision for the peace initiative. "The mandate generally will be to protect the government institutions as well as the government," he said. "And definitely we shall also be doing some capacity building, using Somalis for police training as well as the army."

Last October, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed asked the African Union for 20,000 peacekeepers to help disarm militias and provide a safe environment for the return of the Somali government, which is currently based in Kenya.

For almost 14 years, warlords and their militias loyal to specific clans and sub-clans have been battling each other and civilians for control over certain areas of the country, with no central authority to stop their actions.

Members of the government have been reluctant to return to Somalia because of security concerns and have been asking for protection.

The AU's Mr. Mugumya said his organization is willing to provide the personnel, but far fewer troops than President Yusuf had in mind.

Ugandan army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza told VOA that while he is not aware of an offer by his government to provide 2,000 soldiers, Ugandan President Yoweri Musveni has in the past indicated his support for sending peacekeepers to Somalia.

"The president principally committed himself to contribute forces to Somalia stabilization," he said. "Somalia has been stateless for a very long time."

The African Union is currently working out the exact number of troops and the timelines of deployment for its Somali peace mission.

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