UNSC extends mandate of AU mission in Somalia

The UNSC has unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia for four months.

New York: The UN Security Council, which is currently under India`s presidency, has unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia for four months even as differences persisted among its members over review of the arms embargo against the strife-torn country.

The AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) resolution also extends the UN logistical support package to cover an additional 50 civilian personnel as requested by the African Union.

While Somalia had pressed for a new one-year mandate for the 17,000-strong peacekeeping force, the 15-nation Council voted for a four-month extension up to March 07, 2013.

Giving India`s explanation of vote, its Permanent Representative Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said it is necessary for the international community to remain steadfast in its support to the new government of Somalia in military and civilian matters to stabilise the areas liberated from Al Shabaab, establish administrative structures and launch socio-economic development programmes.

Puri, however, expressed disappointment that the resolution could not respond to other critical requests made by the AU, like the maritime component and the review of arms embargo, adding that India hopes the Council would address these issues when it next considers AMISOM`s mandate after strategic reviews by the AU and the UN.

He said the role played by AMISOM in the progress that Somalia has achieved this year in political and security stabilisation has been critical.

Due to efforts by the AMISOM, Mogadishu is firmly under the control of the Somali authorities.

Over the past few months, AMISOM and the Somali forces have also been making steady gains in other areas of Somalia, and have secured the strategic coastal town of Kismayo from Al Shabaab.

"We commend all troop contributing countries, in particular Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Kenya, for their commitment to the Mission and for the sacrifices their troops have made.”

"We also note the significant contribution of the Ethiopian troops operating under the African Union strategic concept," Puri said.