US, EU urged to boost support to African force in Somalia

A summit of the East African Community has urged the US and the EU to step up their support for AMISOM, the African Union`s peacekeeping force in Somalia.

Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 12:42 PM IST

Dar es Salaam: A summit of the East
African Community has urged the United States and the European
Union to step up their support for AMISOM, the African Union`s
peacekeeping force in Somalia.

"The summit called upon the international community,
in particular the US and the European Union, to enhance their
support to AMISON including addressing the piracy menace," a
final communique said yesterday.

The EAC, which groups Tanzania with Burundi, Rwanda,
Uganda and Kenya, also "commended Burundi and Uganda for the
sacrifices borne out of their efforts to restore stability" in
Somalia.

The 9,000-strong force of Ugandan and Burundian troops
deployed to protect the ailing Somali transitional federal
government (TFG) has over the past five months regained
significant ground in central Mogadishu.

The TFG and AMISOM had long been confined to a few
blocks, unable to take the battle to the Shebab, an Islamist
insurgent movement that has controlled most of the Horn of
Africa country for two years.

AMISOM now controls around half of Mogadishu and is
gradually tightening its grip around Bakara market, the heart
of the capital`s economic activity and a crucial source of
funds for the Shebab.

AMISOM top commander General Nathan Mugisha earlier
this month said this was a turning point in the conflict and
urged the world to help AMISOM break the back of the Islamist
insurgency.

Despite an increased international military presence
off Somalia`s coastline pirate attacks have surged and they
have raked in huge ransoms.

A total of 97 attacks were recorded off Somalia in the
first quarter of this year, up from 35 in the same period last
year, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report last
week.

Participants in yesterday`s summit in Tanzania`s
economic capital Dar es Salaam also backed the AU position in
favour of extending the TFG`s mandate for a year.

The Kenyan, Burundian, Ugandan and Tanzanian
presidents Mwai Kibaki, Pierre Nkurunziza, Yoweri Museveni and
Jakaya Kikwete attended the summit, while Rwanda was
represented by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

The heads of state and government approved the
nomination of Rwandan Health Minister Richard Sezibera as the
next EAC secretary general.

PTI