Ban rules out troops to Somalia

January 30, 2010 12:00 am

, ADDIS ABABA, Jan 30 – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon ruled out Saturday any deployment of UN peacekeepers in Somalia until the end of the country\\\’s decade-old civil war.

"Practically and realistically it is not possible at this time to deploy a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia," he told journalists in Addis Ababa ahead of the African Union summit opening Sunday.

"We need a peace to keep and now there is no peace."

The African Union has called several times on the UN to take over from its own beleaguered peacekeeping force which has been powerless to stop fighting between Islamist rebels and a weak transitional government.

Ban said that three steps had been agreed for Somalia with the UN Security Council.

"First that there is a need to reinforce the security forces of the governement, the army, the police.

"The second phase will be to have a presence in Somalia that will help us to have a better understanding of the situation.

"The third phase would be a deployment of a UN peacekeeping force."

He added that the UN was helping the 5,300 Burundian and Ugandan troops who make up the African Union force known as AMISOM to "strengthen its capacity."

"We are particularly concerned about the current situation and the violence," Ban said. "I\\\’ll have a meeting with the Somalia president to see how we can help more."

On Friday Somali insurgents rained mortar rounds on a ceremony in Mogadishu feting the first year of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed\\\’s shaky rule in a day of violence that killed at least ten.

At least one member of AMISOM — to which Sharif has largely owed his survival since taking office — was killed in the shelling.

Sharif, a moderate Islamist cleric, came to power pledging to bring Islamist rebels back into the fold but the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab and his former allies from the Hezb al-Islam group instead turned against him.

The two insurgent movements in May last year launched a bruising military offensive aimed at toppling the government. The almost uninterrupted fighting has killed thousands and displaced tens of thousands.


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