UN considers peacekeeping deployment to Somalia
The UN Security Council decided Thursday to send a political mission to Somalia in advance of a peacekeeping operation in the Horn of Africa nation, the dpa reported.
South Africa and other African governments have called for peacekeeping troops in Somalia, torn by decades of tribal fighting that had prevented the establishment of a stable government and economic development.
The 15-nation council adopted unanimously a resolution ordering the UN to move its political office, which is now in Nairobi, Kenya, to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu or another location in the country. That office will be tasked to help deliver the "comprehensive, integrated UN strategy" in Somalia previously worked out to end the fighting and restore peace and security.
British Ambassador John Sawers, president of the council, said the adoption of the resolution was made possible because of efforts by the transitional government in Mogadishu to restore peace and security.
"We are seeing a movement toward peace and stability in Somalia," Sawers said.
The goals of the political office are to promote a comprehensive and lasting settlement in Somalia, enhance support of the transitional government in Mogadishu and the political process, develop a constitution and hold a constitutional referendum and elections in 2009.
The council called for strengthening the arms embargo imposed on Somalia.
"It's a very, very big victory," said South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo. "We have adopted a very good resolution."
"For the first time, the council sent a signal to the Somali people that, if the security conditions and political process are in place, then the Security Council will consider peacekeeping operations," Kumalo said.
Kumalo said Mogadishu was still not safe for the political office to settle down, but the UN was looking to other cities in Somalia as an interim location.
The political office will replace the small UN mission now operating in Somalia.