News / Africa

Somalia's Backers Pledge More Support to Defeat Militants

The main international backers of Somalia's government have pledged additional resources for the drive to defeat al-Qaida-linked militants trying to establish a beachhead in the Horn of Africa. The issue was discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by the United States on the sidelines of the African Union summit in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson gathered the presidents of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti and Uganda, along with the prime minister of Ethiopia for a closed-door session.

Senior European Union officials were also there, along with U.N. Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro and top diplomats from Britain and France, which along with the United States comprise the so-called P3 on the U.N. Security Council.

The European Union, the United Nations and the United States are the main financial contributors to the African Union's AMISOM peacekeeping force in Somalia.

The meeting to plan additional support for Somalia's transitional government has taken on added significance following deadly suicide bomb attacks earlier this month in Kampala.  The Somali insurgent group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the terrorist acts, but Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the summit he believes Middle Eastern and South Asian forces were involved.  

Carson says the bombings have raised international consciousness about the need to strengthen the government in Mogadishu.

"Somalia is responsible for piracy," Carson said. "It is also a source of terrorism, which has been visited on countries like Tanzania, Kenya and most recently Uganda.  And it is a place where we see foreign fighters and where we also see an increasing number of extremists operating."

African diplomats say efforts to produce a forceful decision on Somalia at the Kampala summit are being stymied by the Eritrean delegation.  Eritrea, the only Horn of Africa country not a member of the regional economic bloc IGAD, is said to be opposed to plans by regional powers Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to reinforce AMISOM and strengthen its rules of engagement to allow commanders more authority to respond to al-Shabab attacks.  

An Eritrean delegate is said to have asked why, if Afghanistan's leaders can negotiate with the Taliban, why Somalia's leaders cannot talk to al-Shabab.  

But Secretary Carson says the consensus at the sidelines meeting is to do whatever necessary to back the transitional government.

"We came away even more united and committed to work together strengthen the TFG, to help strengthen AMISOM, to help strengthen the forces for stability in Somalia and to help do as much as we can to help beat al-Shabab," he said. "Al-Shabab represents a foreign and a negative influence that cannot only be destructive inside Somalia, but across the entire region."

One surprising development Monday was the participation of South Africa's Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in the Somalia meeting.  AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping told reporters Saturday he had sent a personal letter to President Jacob Zuma asking him to send South African troops to join AMISOM.

When asked whether he would respond positively, Mr. Zuma only laughed.  But in a speech to the summit Monday, Mr. Zuma appeared to suggest he is considering the request.

"As leaders we should rise to this challenge, which is yet another indicator of the road we still have to travel to build a prosperous secure and peaceful Africa in a just stable world," he said.

The 6,000-member AMISOM force is made up exclusively of Ugandan and Burundian troops.  But Chairman Ping says Guinea has a battalion of trained and equipped troops ready to join the force as soon as the country's suspension from the African Union is lifted.  The West African country was suspended last year after a military coup, but the ban is likely to be lifted as soon as a second round of elections is held.   

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 Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
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 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