Somali plead with EU to keep Burundi troops in Amisom
KAMPALA. The Somali Community in Uganda have appealed to the European Union (EU) as funders of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) to mobilise salaries for the Burundi troops now threatening to pull out of Somalia.
Burundi has also threatened to sue the African Union (AU) over failure to pay its peacekeeping contingent in Somalia.
“Security in Somalia is still very fragile that is why we still need Amisom. The other day, media reported a gunman believed to be an al-Shabaab militant having shot someone dead in State House [in Mogadishu]. This is evidence that we are not yet stable to stand on our own,” the Somali community chairman in Uganda, Mr Hassan Hussein, told journalists in Kampala on Monday.
“Should Amisom withdraw now, even the little peace we have achieved will be washed away,” Mr Hussein said.
President Pierre Nkurunziza said the Burundian forces serving with Amisom have gone for more than one year without salaries.
“Failure by the African Union to sort out the problem by next month, Burundian soldiers will pull out of the mission,” he said.
With 5,432 soldiers in Somalia, Burundi is the second biggest contributor of troops under Amisom after Uganda. The other contributing countries are Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Mr Nkurunziza accused the African Union of undermining’ its peacekeepers on whom the country spends a lot of its resources, including on raining and equipping them before they are deployed to Somalia.
“People should know that no one can afford to pay our soldiers’ lives and those who were injured,” he said, adding: “We made an agreement with them (AU) and then they decided not to respect it.”
Burundi has faced widespread international criticism over the deadly political unrest following Nkurunziza’s pursuit of a third term in office last year, which many in the country called unconstitutional. Hundreds have been killed following the disturbances.
Burundi is set to rotate three battalions of soldiers in Somalia in January, its Col. Gaspard Baratuza, said in a statement earlier this week.
The AU is yet to respond to Burundi’s threats to withdraw its troops.