, BRUSSELS, Mar 8 – The European Union has pledged to increase its funding for AMISON forces in Somalia by €100 million up to 2013 and strengthen its military presence in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean waters up to 2014 to help contain the threats posed by terror and piracy groups.
The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy disclosed this at a meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya at the council’s headquarters in Brussels.
Odinga had appealed to the European Union and other international blocs to stay committed to the cause of restoring stability in Somalia.
The PM said there was “light at the end of the long tunnel” of Somalia’s crisis and the international community “must not let the opportunity slip by” again.
Odinga said stabilisation of Somalia must include investment in improving livelihoods in the Horn of Africa, including northern Kenya which has paid steep price for Somalia chaos.
He thanked the EU for its consistency in seeking a lasting solution to the instability in Somalia.
Odinga appealed to the international community to follow through the declaration of the Nairobi Initiative on drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.
Saying the EU and Kenya have similar stand on environmental issues, the PM called for collaboration in development of green energy and environmental conservation.
Odinga also appealed to the EU to allow members of the East Africa Community to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement as a bloc and not as individual states.
On his part, Rompuy praised Kenya’s role in fostering peace, stability and development in the Horn of Africa.
“It is my hope that by combining our efforts we can contribute to greater security in Somalia and to restore peace and stability in this country,” he said.
Rompuy thanked Kenya for sending troops to Somalia and for agreeing to integrate the troops with the other forces in the country.
He said the EU decided last week to extend its Naval Force Operation ATALANTA for two years until December 2014.
The EU is also to deploy a civilian crisis management mission to strengthen maritime capacities in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean region, the EU council president disclosed.
On the upcoming elections in Kenya, Odinga assured the EU that the polls would be free, fair and transparent, adding that the country had learnt from its past mistakes.
The EU council president said they were ready to send an election observer mission to Kenya should the government request for it.
Odinga is in Brussels for a meeting of the Crans Montana on Africa. He is scheduled to meet key EU and Belgian leaders before returning to Nairobi at the weekend.