AU aims at 20,000-strong peacekeeping force in Somalia
(PANA)-- The African Union (AU) intends to increase its peacekeeping force in Somalia to 20,000, while awaiting the response of the UN Security Council on the request for enhancing the force’s mandate from protection to security level, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping said here Saturday.
Currently, the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has a force strength of 8,000 troops providing protection to institutions of the Transitional Federal Government in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country.
‘Our next step is to bolster the force up to 14,000 troops, with additional battalions expected to be deployed from Guinea and Ghana,’ Ping told journalists on the sidelines of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of AU heads of state and government.
With an improved mandate, the force would be able to react militarily in case it came under attack by armed rebel groups in the country.
Ping explained that increasing the AU presence in Somalia, while efforts progressed to bring that country back to normalcy ‘is a question of mandate, troops contribution by member states and availability of the necessary equipment’ for the troops.
He said the AU force in Somalia would be one of the biggest peacekeeping deployments around the world and only second to the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping mission in western Sudan’s Darfur region that stands at 26,000 troops.
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