, UNITED NATIONS, May 27 – The UN Security Council on Tuesday extended the mandate of AMISOM, the African Union mission struggling to contain the violence in Somalia, which has been wracked by fighting between warring factions for nearly two decades.
The council approved resolution 1872 authorizing "member states of the African Union to maintain AMISOM until January 31, 2010 to carry out its existing mandate."
The measure also called on the United Nations to continue to provide a logistical support package for AMISOM comprising equipment and services … until January 31, 2010."
Britiain’s UN Ambassador John Sawers said the logistical support would total some 200 to 300 million dollars.
The resolution also calls on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to continue to provide logistical support for Amisom thorough the end of the mission, and puts on a back burner efforts to create a UN force to replace AMISOM until after its mandate ends.
AMISOM, deployed in March 2007, counts more than 4,300 Ugandan and Burundian soldiers and is currently charged with protecting strategic sites in the seaside capital such as the presidency, the port and the airport.
But it is not allowed to fight alongside government forces and is authorized to retaliate only in case of a direct attack.
A country of seven million people, Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.
The raging violence in Somalia includes attacks in the capital where Somali government troops on Friday attacked three Mogadishu districts — Tarbunka, Bakara and Howlwadag — claiming 14 lives.
Somali extremists launched their offensive against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on May 7, and have maintained their positions in Mogadishu in trenches along streets near the presidential palace.
They consist mainly of fighters from the Shebab, a homegrown radical group whose leaders are suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, and the Hezb al-Islamiya, another armed organization loyal to hardline opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys Aweys.