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African Military Experts Discuss Peacekeeping Mission for Somalia

 

Top African military officials are studying a proposal to send a 3,500-strong peace force by October to Somalia, where an internationally recognized government appears increasingly weak in comparison to and its fundamentalist Islamic rivals.

Officials said Thursday that four battalions, made up of Ugandan and Sudanese troops, will be trained in Kenya before being deployed in an initial phase to the conflict-ridden country, African military experts told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media.

The military officials are meeting under the auspices of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which mediated peace talks on Somalia that led to a transitional government being formed two years ago.

Somalia's transitional parliament had endorsed a security plan drawn up by Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf's government that includes a role for a regional peacekeeping mission.

Somalia has not had a national army or police since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, pulling the country into anarchy.

In June, Islamic militiamen took over the capital and then seized control of much of southern Somalia, while Yusuf's weak, internationally recognized government has been unable to assert its authority beyond Baidoa.


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