ADDIS ABABA- Somali security forces will not be able to replace African troops until the international community provides “predictable” funding for their training, according to the United Nations.
“The withdrawal, whether it’s Ethiopian or Amisom, is contingent upon adequate replacement by the Somali forces,” Augustine Mahiga, the UN sectrerary-general’s special representative to the Horn of Africa nation, said in an interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “The pace at which Somali forces are being trained is not as fast because there hasn’t been predictable funding.”
Over the past 12 months, troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, and the Ethiopian military have removed al-Shabaab, a militia linked to al-Qaeda, from key areas including the capital, Mogadishu, the port of Kismayu, and Baidoa, the nation’s second-largest city.
Military efforts are now focused on eliminating remaining insurgents and training Somali security forces to maintain law and order, Mahiga said.
Somalia has had no effective central government since rebels overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. That triggered 21 years of civil war where warlords, regional administrations, Islamist militants and pirates fought for dominance. A series of transitional governments failed to quell the disorder. Somali lawmakers in September elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as president.
Security forces need to be trained and an arms embargo on the government lifted, said Somali Foreign Minister Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan. “As soon as that’s happened then Amisom and Ethiopian troops can leave Somalia,” she said in an interview today at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
The European Union, which pays the salaries of the Amisom troops, is discussing offering “assured funding,” Mahiga said. Turkey and countries from the Persian Gulf may also provide money for “overstretched” Amisom peacekeepers, he said. The mission may become a joint UN and African Union operation once the threat from rebels is eliminated, Mahiga said.