News / Africa

AU to Reinforce Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia

An African Union summit has agreed to send thousands more peacekeepers to Somalia to battle al-Qaida-linked militants who claim responsibility for the World Cup bombings in Kampala. Our correspondent reports from the Ugandan capital that a summit communique also calls for suspension of the International Criminal Court warrant against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

African leaders stung by the suicide bombings that killed 76 people in Kampala this month endorsed plans on Tuesday that will soon boost the size of the AU mission, known as AMISOM, in Somalia to nearly 10,000. The AMISOM force currently consists of 6100 Ugandan and Burundian troops.

The reinforcements are expected to include a battalion from Guinea and several hundred soldiers from Djibouti. Both are Muslim majority states.

A summit communique does not specify AMISOM's rules of engagement. But the AU Chairman, Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika suggested AMISOM commanders have new authority in the wake of the Kampala bombings to respond to attacks by al-Shabab, the Islamic extremist group that controls much of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

"You have seen in the Ugandan papers that the troops that have gone there are making lot of gains, in terms of controlling parts of Mogadishu, and I believe this will take place, and the threats by al-Shabab that always happens in any situation," said Bingu wa Mutharika. "The bombing of the drinking place in Kampala was intended to scare us so we don't come to hold a summit.....but it did absolutely the opposite."

The summit also reiterated a call for the United Nations Security Council to suspend for one year the arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader did not attend the Kampala summit because Uganda, as a member of the International Criminal Court, would have been obligated to arrest him on war crimes and genocide charges.

The arrest warrant has divided the continent's leaders. Many of the 30 African state parties to the ICC support calls for the Sudanese leader's arrest, and say postponing the warrant condones impunity.

But President Mutharika says the majority of the  membership want a year to present Africa's views on the validity of the ICC charges.

"We are not condoning impunity and we are not condoning any crimes that may have been committed by anybody, whether he's a head of state or not, against humanity," he said. "We're not condoning any genocide that might have been committed. But these things need to be proved. So we are asking the United Nations General Assembly to postpone the execution of that arrest warrant for 12 months, during which we will look at the issue and see if the evidence they have corroborates with ours."

Mr. Mutharika questioned whether the ICC has authority to indict the head of state of a country that is not a member of the court, without consulting the continent's leaders.

"Let us look at the position of the ICC," said Mr. Mutharika. Do they really have a right to tell us what to do on this continent? It's a question. Do they have a right to try Sudan, who's not a member of ICC? I don't know."

The ICC indictment charges President Bashir with war crimes and genocide in connection with the civil war in Darfur. The United Nations estimates as many as 300,000 people have died since the war broke out in early 2003, though the Sudanese government puts the figure at around 10,000.

Mr. Bashir has ruled Sudan since coming to power in a military coup in 1989. He won election in April in the country's first multiparty vote in 24 years.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs