Nairobi’s Business Daily says the decision was reached last week in Addis Ababa. "The [African Union] council endorses the strategic concept for future operations...including the increase of the level of UN-supported AMISOM uniformed personnel from 12 000 to 17 731, including 5 700 from the Djiboutian contingent and the re-hatted Kenyan troops, as well as Amisom's police component," reads part of a communiqué issued following last week's meeting of the council.
Kenya has tried to beef up security along the border since it sent troops into anarchic Somalia in October to crush the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents. Kenyan has suffered from a wave of kidnappings and cross-border raids which Nairobi blamed on the Islamist rebels, who control large swathes of southern Somalia and are battling a weak Western-backed government.
Created in 2007, AMISOM, is made up of close to 10 000 troops drawn from Uganda and Burundi, well under the 12 000 authorised by the United Nations which helps fund AMISOM. Specifically the mission’s mandate is to conduct peace support operations in Somalia, as well as to stabilise the situation in the country in order to create conditions for the conduct of humanitarian activities.
At its last week's meeting, the AU's Peace and Security Council also renewed the mandate of Amisom for a further period of 12 months with effect from January 16.
AMISOM's mandate, currently limited to Mogadishu, would be effectively expanded with Kenya's inclusion in the force. However, Kenya’s ability to pursue al Shabaab militants may be compromised as it is encouraged to pursue a peacekeeping mandate that allows for the use of weaponry only in self defence.
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