The African Union has asked the United Nations to prioritise the plea for financial back-up to countries contributing soldiers to Somalia.
At a meeting with Michael Keating, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui said the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) needed the financial boost ahead of the country’s elections in August.
“Commissioner Chergui reiterated the importance of implementing the recent decisions made during the troop-contributing countries summit, especially in the areas of command and control, deployment of additional enablers, resource mobilisation and better coordination amongst partners in their support to Somalia,” the AU said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The commissioner and the special representative of the UN secretary-general stressed the importance of a comprehensive and more deliberate approach in the support of Somalia to develop a competent security sector as part of efforts to promote sustainable peace.”
AU’s language was in the usual diplomatic tone, arguing the need to have a strong Amisom force as the Somali army was being improved to guard the county’s territory.
But Chergui, the Algerian diplomat charged with AU’s peace and security operations, was more direct in comments on his Twitter page.
“AU needs to come up with a clear roadmap to secure 25 per cent financing of its peace and security operations. The UN is expected to provide the remaining 75 per cent from assessed contributions,” Mr Chergui wrote.
“Ultimately, best way to resolve the challenge of funding AU peace operations is to silence the guns in Africa,” he added in another comment.
Tuesday’s meeting was mainly about Somalia’s stabilising plan ahead of the elections the international community sees as a game-changer for the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation.
Mr Keating is also the head of the UN Assistance Office to Somalia.
This meeting came only two weeks after troop-contributing countries: Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Nigeria (police), Sierra Leone and Burundi met with Somali government officials in Djibouti where they stressed the “need for an affective Amisom Command and Control in order to achieve synergy” against Al-Shabaab terrorists.
But the countries also asked for more financing to plug the reduced European Union budget for the 22,000 troops operating in Somalia.
“The Summit notes with serious concern the decision by the EU to reduce financial support to Amisom troop allowance by 20 per cent, especially during this critical phase of Amisom operations and call upon the UN to…bridge this financial gap,” the leaders said in a communique.
With Al-Shabaab launching attacks on Amisom soldiers frequently, it means Kenya and other troop-contributing countries need a stable budget to prop up the Somali government, especially as the election date approaches.
However, the two diplomats agreed that a stable Somali national army would be the ultimate solution to the country’s problems.
Somalia plunged into conflict in 1991 following the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre who had been in power for more than 20 years.
There have been various attempts to bring stability to the country though almost all have failed.
The emergence of Al-Shabaab, a jihadist group, a few years ago has complicated efforts to bring peace to Somalia.
The group has attacked peacekeepers from Burundi, Uganda and Kenya.
It is believed to control large swathes of land, especially in the south of the country.