2 September 2009

Djibouti: Country to Send 500 Soldiers to Somalia - Report

Djibouti City — The government of the Republic of Djibouti is planning to send peacekeepers to neighboring Somalia soon, Radio Garowe reports.

Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mohamud Ali Yusuf recently said that Djiboutian troops would serve as part of the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, known as AMISOM. He noted that Djiboutian soldiers are "ready" and will soon be transported to Somalia with "assistance of France."

His comment was reiterated by Djibouti's ambassador to the United States, Mr. Roble Olhaye.

Speaking on VOA Somali Service, Ambassador Olhaye said the Djibouti government decided to dispatch peacekeepers to Somalia to assist that country's interim government defeat an insurgency raging since early 2007.

"The Djibouti Government made the decision [to send peacekeepers] after the U.N. rejected sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia. It is our duty to help the Somali government, as this is the only option," Djibouti's ambassador to the U.S. said during the interview.

He did not specify the number of Djiboutian soldiers being sent to Somalia, but independent sources put that number at around 500 soldiers.

AMISOM currently consists of 5,000 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi. The force is short of the 8,000 soldiers approved by the AU to help guard government institutions in Mogadishu and train Somali security forces.

Meanwhile, upwards of 800 Somali soldiers are currently receiving military training in Djibouti camps with the help of French military advisers.

Last month, Somali Planning and International Cooperation Minister, Mr. Abdirahman Abdishakur, announced that Nigeria and Djibouti were sending peacekeepers to boost the AMISOM force in Mogadishu.

Somali insurgents oppose the presence of AMISOM and accuse government leaders of being Western puppets.

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