African leaders still seeking 4,000 troops for Somalia peacekeeping.
|Profile: The African Union|
As Somalia’s transitional government tries to cement political control after driving out Islamic Courts forces from the south of the country, African leaders are aiming to deploy a force to fill a security vacuum after Ethiopian troops leave.
“We appeal to member states to contribute and we are still expecting them to answer,” Kufour told delgates.
Lack of funding
Only the small central African country of Burundi announced that it would send troops, following earlier pledges from Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi and Uganda.
Ethiopia is keen to pull its troops soon and said on Wednesday that it hoped the AU force would begin its mission in two or three weeks but the issue of funding remains unresolved.
Loius Michel, an EU commissioner, agreed to release around $19.5m for the force after Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia’s interim president, pledged at the summit to stage a national conference of reconciliation.
But much more will be needed to cover the total cost.
Alpha Oumar Konare, the AU commission president, deplored how the AU “always has to hold out its hand” for funds.
“We are counting too much on outside help, that’s unacceptable for me. Our member states are not assuming their responsibilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Somalia’s parliament elected a new speaker on Wednesday to replace the one who was removed from his position because of perceived overtures to the Islamic Courts.
Members of parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of Sheikh Adan Madobe, who takes over from Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan who was voted out of office on January 17.
Adan’s sacking drew international criticism that Yusuf’s government was missing a crucial opportunity to become more inclusive following a two-week war in December to remove the Islamic Courts.
“Sheikh Adan Madobe has received 154 votes, thereby becoming the new speaker of parliament,” Osman Elmi Boqore, the deputy speaker, told parliament, revealing that the runner-up, Ibrahim Adan Hassan, won 54 votes.
Parliament sources said Madobe enjoys support from Yusuf.