Mar 17, 2005

Somaliland: Peacekeepers Will Not Deploy in Somaliland

A controversial 10.000-strong peacekeeping force planned for Somalia will deploy across the country except in the self-administered Republic of Somaliland
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A controversial 10 000-strong regional peacekeeping force planned for Somalia will deploy across the country except in the breakaway region of Somaliland, a senior Ugandan military officer has said.

"The force will deploy throughout Somalia, from Puntland all the way to the south, but not in Somaliland," the officer said after meetings of east African military experts at which the eight-battalion deployment was worked out.

Somalia has been without any functioning central authority for the past 14 years but the region of Somaliland has established its own governmental structures and claims independence from the rest of the war-shattered nation.

The officer said the first phase of the proposed deployment, which has been recommended to begin on April 30, would see three-and-half battalions of troops sent to lawless Somalia to assist the country's transitional government relocate there from exile in Kenya.

The first peacekeepers to go would include a battalion each from Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia and a half battalion from Djibouti, he said on condition of anonymity.

He stressed that the proposal, presented by defence chiefs from the seven-nation Inter-Governmental Authority on Development on Monday, still had to be approved by IGAD foreign ministers.

The officer added that the proposal did not take into account strong opposition from some Somali warlords and Islamic clerics to the participation in the force of troops from Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Those two countries, as well as Kenya, are seen by opponents as having ulterior motives in Somalia.

"The foreign ministers will handle those policy matters," the officer said. "We wrote down the concept and it is them to decide the implementation policy."

However, on Monday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the current chair of IGAD, said the force, to be known as the IGAD Peace Support Mission for Somalia, would deploy with or without the support of the warlords.

"We are going to deploy with or without the support of the warlords," Museveni told defence ministers from IGAD, which comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and nominally Somalia.


Source: AFP