By Charles Kufa
Malawi President Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika has dismissed assertions by the Minister of Defence David Katsonga that Malawi is sending troops to Somalia as part of the AU peacekeeping force. Mutharika said this upon arrival from the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“It is not true that Malawi has offered to send troops to Somalia and have not discussed this in Cabinet. But Malawi is not yet decided to go or not. We are waiting for a formal request,” the President said.
The AU Summit commended Malawi for her bravery in agreeing to send solders to Somalia for a peace keeping mission where most countries are shying away.
His statement is a dramatic reverse of what the Defence Minister said a week ago.
Leader of Opposition John Tembo speaking to Nyasa Times indicated that government has not approached him with such a subject and he would not agree to send any soldiers to Somalia without Parliamentary approval.
Mutharika’s statement comes after an Islamic group issued warnings in a video released on the Internet saying that if AU peacekeepers land in Somalia they will be hunted down and killed. The salary the soldiers will earn would be used to transport their dead bodies.
U.S. considers diplomatic presence in Somalia
The United States said on Thursday that it is considering reestablishing diplomatic presence in Somalia after a break of 16 years.
"We're going to take a look, obviously, at what is appropriate, in terms of security, in terms of political presence, in terms of diplomatic presence in Somalia," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a briefing.
"There aren't any final decisions in that regard. It's something that's being actively examined right now," McCormack said.
McCormack said the U.S. embassy in Kenya is now in charge of U. S. mission in Somalia.
The United Sates withdrew its diplomats from Somalia in 1991 following the anarchy after Somalia's strongman Mohammed Siad Barre was toppled.
The United States has voiced support for Ethiopia's recent military intervention in Somalia that led to the ouster of the Islamic Courts and the control of Mogadishu by Somalia's interim government.