By¬†KEVIN J KELLEY New York
A high-ranking Somali official told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that her government does not want the African Union military mission in Somalia (Amisom) to be given a maritime component.
Kenya, the only African country deploying naval forces in Somali waters, has long sought UN approval of about $10 million (Sh870m) in funding for an Amisom maritime force.
Somalia‚Äôs statement on Thursday of “strong opposition” to that request is disappointing, said Kenyan UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau.
A naval force is needed, he commented, to “address the movement of Shabaab elements as well as their supplies.”
“Somalia itself,” Ambassador Kamau added, “does not have the capacity to control these elements.”
The Somalia government’s stand contradicts that of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In a report that was also brought before the Security Council on Thursday, Mr Ban said the 15-member body should “give serious consideration to the African Union request for an Amisom maritime component.”
The UN leader added that naval forces are “critical to consolidate control over southern and central Somalia, in particular wresting control from al-Shabaab of the remaining coastal towns.”
But Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fawzia Y. H. Adam told the council that there is “not a compelling reason to take the campaign against al-Shabaab to sea.”
“Piracy, human trafficking and smuggling are important challenges,” she added, “but are not linked to the mandate of Amisom.”
Ms Adam said she wished to reiterate “our strong opposition to the maritime forces to be authorised for Amisom.”
Ambassador Kamau said that while Kenya still hopes for UN support for its request, “we respect the right and prerogative of the Somali government to determine what kind of assistance they want to get.”