Somali islamists discard UN package

Published on Monday 26th May 2008

Somalia: A Somali Islamist commander Sunday rejected a UN resolution that could see UN peacekeepers sent to the war-wracked African nation, calling for a "war" against any such deployment.

"We are totally against any foreign force to be deployed in Somalia to replace the Ethiopian invaders," said Hassan Abdullahi Hersi, a top commander of Islamist forces battling African and Ethiopian troops in Somalia.

"We call upon the Somali people to be prepared for an open war against the enemies of Allah -- the foreign forces that are being proposed," he said.

"We do not recognise the so-called United Nations because it serves the interest of the Americans."

The Security Council on May 15 unanimously adopted a resolution opening the way to a gradual return of UN staff to Somalia and possibly resulting in the deployment of peacekeepers there, agency report said.

The resolution, drawn up by Britain, urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon to develop plans "for the possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia to succeed AMISOM," the African Union (AU) force currently based there, "taking account of all relevant conditions on the ground."

"We are Muslims and we do not ask infidels to keep peace in our holy land," Hersi warned.

"It is time for war and self-defense not time for negotiations. I believe the only solutions we have now is to go to that war," added Hersi, a hardline militant fighting against the Somali government, allied Ethiopian forces and AU peacekeepers.

The Security Council is considering various options to boost the UN role in Somalia, including sending up to 28,500 UN troops and police, provided there is "a viable and inclusive political process" and an agreement to end hostilities.

Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted.

The Islamists ousted US-backed warlords from Mogadishu in 2006 and briefly ruled large parts of the country before being defeated by Ethiopian forces last year, but the two sides are still locked in a bloody guerrilla war.

The AU peacekeeping mission can count on just over 2,500 Ugandan and Burundian troops in Somalia, but the deployment falls short of the 8,000 pledged by the pan-African body, and has to date proved unable to curb the violence.