Security Council approves African protection force in Somalia

The Security Council today authorized the establishment of an African protection and training mission in Somalia to help defend the troubled country’s Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs).The new force, which will be set up by the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African group, has an initial mandate of six months, according to a resolution adopted unanimously by the Council.The Council said it was acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter in authorizing the peacekeeping mission.No countries bordering Somalia will be able to deploy troops in the force, which is to be known as IGASOM and is being created amid mounting international concern at the lack of progress in peace talks between the TFIs and the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls the capital, Mogadishu.The mission is charged with: protecting members of the TFIs, including the Government; training those institutions’ security forces to provide their own security and help re-establish national security forces; maintaining security in Baidoa, where the TFIs are based; monitoring progress on dialogue between the TFIs and the Islamic Courts; and ensuring the free movement and safety of all those involved in the dialogue process.Under the resolution, the arms embargo on Somalia has been partially lifted to allow the supply of “weapons and military equipment and technical training and assistance intended solely for” the new force.Council members also stressed that they consider the TFIs and the Transitional Federal Charter to “offer the only route to achieve peace and stability in Somalia,” which has not had a functioning national government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.The resolution urged both sides to resume peace talks immediately, and warned that the Council would take action against anyone who tries to block peaceful dialogue or overthrow the TFIs by force.Last week Council members adopted a resolution condemning the recent spike in Somalia’s weapons trade and extending the mandate by six months of a group of experts charged with monitoring the flow of arms. read more