15 March 2005

Somalia: President Museveni Warns Somali Warlords

Entebbe — President Yoweri Museveni has told Somali warlords and said the peacekeeping troops will be deployed with or without their permission.

Museveni was speaking at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) workshop aimed at drawing deployment plans for the peace support mission.

"We have to deploy whether they (warlords) agree or not. They are holding nine million people hostage, how many years have we lost in Somalia? It is either 14 0r 15 and this must stop," Museveni said in an impassioned appeal at Entebbe Resort Hotel yesterday.

Defence officials and ministers from several East African countries are meeting in Entebbe to map out the Somalia peacekeeping mission which Uganda's UPDF is proposing to be part of.

"Here in Uganda we have had a lot of problems we fought with Sudan and Mobutu and never called the United Nations to help us we solved all these problems ourselves," he said.

Museveni slammed the UN and European Union as failures in solving African problems.

"I do not remember any positive change in Africa brought about by the UN or Europe," said Museveni.

"I have no speech but I'm speaking from my experience it's a shame for one of the ancient races to suffer for so long while Africa is looking on," he added.

Museveni who is currently the IGAD chairman seemed let down by the speed and draw backs in the seven-day meeting called for a positive solution for the Somalia.

"I want to talk to the Somali transitional government I'm told they are also there confused," he said

Countries from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have expressed the will to send stabilizing troops to the war-torn Somalia but seem still bogged down a mandate and sources of funding. Ministers and defense experts were last evening slated to sign a communiqué but had not by press time. The communiqué will include the deployment plan, troop contributing countries and size of the mission.

The AU has authorized IGAD countries: Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti to send an interim force to Mogadishu to help Somalia's transitional government relocate there from exile.

Some Somali clans and Islamic court leaders have vowed to resist any foreign troops. Some protestors said they would resist forces from Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Warlords in the country are divided on the deployment, which has already met fierce opposition from the Somali Islamic cleric.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Since last October, Somalia has adopted political institutions president, government, and parliament but the latter remain in Nairobi for security reasons.

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