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Rwanda Provides Training to Somali Army, Says UN Needs to Do More

Rwanda's foreign minister says the Rwandan army is providing all the support it can to the Somali national army, but the United Nations needs to do more. Thomas Rippe spoke with Foreign Minister Charles Muligande Thursday in Kigali and filed this report for VOA.

Charles Muligande says Rwanda is providing all the support it can to troubled Somalia. He says it is unable to contribute troops to the African Union mission in Somalia because of its commitments in Darfur. Instead of providing troops, he says Rwanda has accepted a long-term commitment to train Somali forces.

Muligande says he hopes this will help the Somali government be more independent.

"A Chinese proverb says, 'Instead of giving someone a fish you should teach him how to fish.' And we believe that by training the new national army of Somalia we would be giving probably a better contribution," he said.

The Rwandan government said earlier the training began in May. Minister Muligande would not comment on the number of troops being trained or when they would be deployed. He says providing aid to other nations is part of the mission of the Rwandan army and police, and is a part of the country's constitution. He says Rwanda recognizes the importance of promoting peace and security in the East Africa region and around the continent.

"It is also our firm belief that Africa cannot develop unless it has peace and security and stability. And our contribution to these African Union peacekeeping missions are in some way our desire to achieve the African Union vision of building a peaceful, united, integrated and prosperous Africa," said Muligande.

The minister expressed frustration with the United Nations for not providing the logistical support necessary to get more troops into Somalia. He says many African nations are willing to send troops, but lack the resources to make it happen. The African Union has pledged 8,000 troops, but so far only 1,700 have arrived, all from Uganda.

He also expressed his displeasure over a recent Security Council resolution extending the mandate of the AU mission in Somalia. He says this was a matter for the African Union, not the U.N.

"The U.N. Security Council did not need to extend the mandate of an African mission," said Muligande. "The African mission was deployed there by the African Union, and could have been there without any U.N. Security Council resolution. What we expected from the U.N. Security Council is that of deciding to play its role and to live up to its responsibility of maintaining peace and security in this world, including Somalia."

Muligande says Rwanda is committed to contributing as much as its resources allow to help Somalia rebuild.