Mozambique will not deploy troops to Somalia

MAPUTO Wed May 2, 2007 7:33am EDT

An Africa Union peacekeeper from Uganda holds his weapon during a patrol in Mogadishu May 1, 2007. Mozambique has decided not to send troops to Somalia, where fighting has intensified as Somali and Ethiopian troops battle insurgents, a senior Defence Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday. REUTERS/Shabelle Media

An Africa Union peacekeeper from Uganda holds his weapon during a patrol in Mogadishu May 1, 2007. Mozambique has decided not to send troops to Somalia, where fighting has intensified as Somali and Ethiopian troops battle insurgents, a senior Defence Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Credit: Reuters/Shabelle Media

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MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique has decided not to send troops to Somalia, where fighting has intensified as Somali and Ethiopian troops battle insurgents, a senior Defence Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Teofilo Joao, permanent secretary in the Defence Ministry, said Mozambique had not been adequately briefed about the nature of its proposed role in Somalia.

"Is it a peace-keeping mission or a peace imposition mission? ... the two parties (government and its opponents) are not willing to have third parties in their conflict," he said.

The retired general said Mozambique would respond to any request for calls to serve in countries or regions in conflicts across the globe once the conditions of its participation are clarified.

The U.N. Security Council has asked the United Nations to draw up contingency plans for U.N. peacekeepers in Somalia to support an African peacekeeping mission which thus far has involved only about 1,500 troops from Uganda.

The African Union on Friday called for more African troops to take their places in the proposed 8,000-strong force, saying that unless order is reimposed soon the country will descend into disaster.

Joao said Mozambique had reconsidered its initial pledge to join the African peacekeeping effort after reviewing its own equipment and remaining questions over how the operation would be funded.

"Capacity and clarity, including funding, are the major obstacles in our intervention. We have troops but we need sufficient equipment if we are to participate," he said.

Conflict in and around the Somali capital Mogadishu between government and Ethiopian forces and Islamist fighters has displaced an estimated 350,000 people.

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