News / Africa

AU Tells Somalia's Leaders to Get Serious

African Union diplomats are telling Somalia's feuding leaders to "get serious" if they want international help in battling al-Qaida linked terror groups. Africa's top security body heard a dire assessment of Somalia ahead of a crisis meeting at the United Nations.

Amid mounting reports of deteriorating conditions in Somalia, the AU Peace and Security Council issued an urgent plea for member states to make good on promises to come to the aid of the country's Transitional Federal Government. Equatorial Guinea's AU ambassador Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue is the Council chairman for September.

"We are very very deeply concerned about the situation in Somalia. We have decided to ask direct member states to to do their contribution in all areas, otherwise it's a problem that affects our collective security," said Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue.

Hours before a crisis meeting at UN headquarters called by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ambassador Mangue called on Somalia's feuding leaders to show seriousness in the face of an imminent threat of a takeover by al-Qaida linked terror groups.

"The country is occupied by the terrorists, it's occupied. It's a real occupation. Now the big bad news we have got today is the increasing misunderstanding inside the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia," added Mangue. "They have to be united and they have to understand that if Africa and the international community will not see seriousness and engagement among themselves that will not be good. A nation like Somalia cannot be in conflict for decades."

"AU Deputy Special Representative for Somalia Diarra Boubacar briefed the Council. He said this week's resignation of Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke underscores the TFG's weakness, further undermining efforts to win international backing for efforts to defeat extremists militias controlling much of the country.

"It is this lack of cohesion within the TFG institutions. The lack of cohesion is a big problem for us," said Boubacar. "We need more comprehension [within] the TFG of its role to install security on the ground. I think also a big concern is the terrorism we face on the ground coming from al-Shabab."

News from Mogadishu Thursday told of clashes in two city suburbs between forces loyal to the government and al-Shabab rebels, and heavy shelling in the city's main market. Scores of people were said to have been killed and injured, though exact numbers were impossible to verify.

The African Union maintains a 7,200 strong peacekeeping mission in Somalia to reinforce the outmanned government security forces. The mission is made up largely of Ugandan and Burundian troops.

Efforts to solicit troop contributions from other African nations have been mostly unsuccessful, An ambassador representing a country with one of Africa's largest armies, when asked about a possible troop deployment, said "it's just too big a challenge".

The envoy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the international community's hesitation to engage is a reflection of the difficulty of conditions on the ground. He said there would be little appetite for sending troops unless peackeepers were given a stronger mandate, allowing them to pursue and drive out insurgents.

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