The African Union Peace and Security Council has given Kenyan troops a go-ahead to merge with the Uganda and Burundi peace keeping mission troops in Somalia to fight the al-Shabaab insurgent group.
The decision, made on Thursday evening at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, will see 5,700 Djiboutia and Kenyan troops join the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) as part of the United Nations mandated peacekeeping operation in Somalia.
In addition to Kenyan troops merger, the AU also said it expects more troops from Uganda and Burundi to beef up the strength of Amisom to 17,700 troops.
More troops needed
The current strength of Amisom is about 10,000, less by 12,000 of the approved number by UN in 2007. The Uganda contingent forms the biggest bulk of the troops.
The meeting also decided to renew the mandate of Amisom for an additional period of 12 months.
However, the AU will have to wait for an approval from the UN for more troops and logistical support.
The Peace and Security Council also decided on a “strategic” Ethiopian troops withdrawal from Somalia although details of the withdrawal were not made public.
The new military strategy mandates Amisom to control wider areas in Somalia and enhance the capacity of Somalia transitional government security forces. Amisom will take over al-Shabaab free areas from Ethiopian troops before the Ethiopian withdrawal.
Ethiopia that had for the last several months consistently denied its involvement in Somalia only last week admitted its troops control central Somali town of Beledweyne. The country first went into Somalia in 2005 where it ousted the Islamic Courts Union government but withdrew six months later.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called an international summit on Somalia on February 23 in London.
The summit aims at soliciting funding to assist the Transitional Federal Government and aid thousands of famine-stricken people in the war- torn country.
The meeting is also set to gather diplomatic support for the ongoing AU’s effort to bring peace in Somalia.