Guinea to Send Troops to African Union Force in Somalia
Fri Jul 23, 6:43 am ET
KAMPALA (AFP) – Guinea is ready to immediately deploy a battalion to Mogadishu to boost the troubled African Union peacekeeping force in the Somali capital, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said Friday.
“Guinea is ready to immediately dispatch a battalion,” Ping said at a press conference in Kampala, two days before AU heads of state officially launch the continental body’s 15th summit.
“We are going to quickly top the 8,000 mark… I think the current trend could take us over 10,000,” he added.
There are currently more than 6,000 troops in the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which was first deployed in 2007 and currently consists only of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers.
The force, whose mandate is mainly to protect the Western-backed Somali transitional federal government, has been unable to pin back the insurgents and guarantee any kind of stability in Mogadishu.
The Shebab, an Al Qaeda-linked insurgent group, claimed responsibility for suicide blasts that ripped through crowds watching the football World Cup final on July 11, killing 76 people in the region’s deadliest attacks in years.
They said the bombings were retaliation for Uganda’s leading role in AMISOM, which has been the only thing preventing the rebels from overrunning the last few blocks still controlled by the government.
But instead of bullying contributing nations into pulling their troops out, the attacks spurred fresh calls for the continent to further support AMISOM by sending it more troops and making its mandate more robust.