United Nations: The UN chief is asking the Security Council to consider lifting the 20-year-old international arms embargo on Somalia, so that country`s fragile army can import weapons to more effectively fight off al-Qaeda-linked militants, al-Shabab.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a report to the UN Security Council that enhanced measures are "urgently needed to develop the Somali National Security Force."
"There remain elements, both inside and outside the country, that are opposed to" Somalia`s new, more stable government. "These spoilers will seize any opportunity to reverse the gains made so painstakingly in the peace process. We must continue to stay alert and deny then the space they seek," Ban wrote.
Ban said that "In this regard, the Security Council may wish to consider the repeated request by the government for lifting the arms embargo."
The Security Council will be considering that recommendation in February as it also reviews Ban`s ideas for a new UN political and peace building mission in Somalia, to be based in Somalia instead of neighboring Kenya, to supplement the more than 17,700 African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.
Ban also recommended that the Security Council consider a UN or joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission once combat operations against Al-Shabab end.
The African Union in October appealed to the Security Council to allow arms and other military equipment into the country to equip Somalia`s military.
It is a request being made as the international community begins to look at how long it will be before Somali troops can provide security on their own, allowing the departure of African Union troops, who have been in Somalia since 2007.
Somalia`s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has asked the UN to adjust its arms embargo so that the government can bring in rifles, light machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades with which to fight the militants.
The embargo, the argument goes, was designed to keep arms away from al-Shabab, not the government. With some additional help like the building of new weapons armories the government believes it can make sure weapons don`t fall into the hands of the insurgents.