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Somalia not ready for peacekeepers -Sudan

سودانيزاونلاين.كوم
sudaneseonline.com
5/19/2005 7:18am

NAIROBI, May 19 (Reuters) - Sudan is ready to contribute troops to a peacekeeping force for Somalia but at the moment the situation in the Horn of Africa country is not suitable for such a mission, the Sudanese military said on Thursday.

The African Union approved a plan last week to send Ugandan and Sudanese troops to help the government relocate to Somalia, which remains a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by rival warlords.

Asked if the situation in Somalia was conducive to a peacekeeping force, Sudanese Armed Forces Chief of Staff Abbas Arabi said without elaborating: "Not yet. It is not ready."

"But we are ready (when the situation becomes suitable)," he added in answer to questions at a news conference held jointly with Kenyan Internal Security Minister John Michuki.

Somalia collapsed into chaos after the overthrow of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, and conflict and famine have killed hundreds of thousands of people since then.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government -- the 14th attempt at effective administration in almost as many years -- has been based in Kenya since last year where it was formed at peace talks.

The AU did not say when troops, assembled by regional mediation body IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) would go in, and it urged Yusuf's government to resolve an internal row over where the administration should be based.

Yusuf wants to temporarily move the administration to the southwestern town of Baidoa and Jowhar, a town near Mogadishu, saying they will go to Mogadishu when security permits.

But a rival wing of Yusuf's government wants him to base the government in Mogadishu and says deploying peacekeeping troops before the government solves its row will only worsen matters.

Baidoa is currently held by a militia boss opposed to Yusuf and there have been reports that several militia chiefs allied to Yusuf are gathering armed forces in the vicinity, according to humanitarian sources in Nairobi.

The AU has about 2,200 soldiers in Sudan's western Darfur region to monitor a ceasefire between rebels and the government. The first of 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers have started arriving in southern Sudan following a peace deal that ended 21 years of civil war.

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