SA will not send troops to Somalia

2010-10-07 13:56

South Africa will not be sending troops to conflict-ridden Somalia to boost the African Union’s peacekeeping force, defence secretary Mpumi Mpofu said today.

“The answer to Somalia is a simple no. The South African National Defence Force will not be deployed in Somalia,” she told a media briefing in Cape Town on the department’s 2009/10 annual report.

“We don’t have an instruction to go to Somalia right now from the commander in chief or anybody.”

She said, however, that there was still the possibility of South Africa deploying ships as part of a Southern African Development Community force to fend off Somali pirates if they encroached on the region’s waters.

It’s expected that South Africa will play a leading role in such a force because it has vessels the rest of the region lacks.

“There is a lot of work going on around monitoring that situation in order to be able to assess the point at which the piracy starts threatening the region,” Mpofu said.

Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in late July that South Africa was considering a request from the African Union to its members to send troops to support 5 000 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi in Mogadishu, propping up Somalia’s fragile interim government.

But, she added, Pretoria was worried about the violent nature of the conflict in one of Africa’s most troubled nations and the threat of reprisals.

Uganda suffered revenge bombings in July that killed 70 people.

Somalia has been in a state of almost constant conflict since the collapse of the government of Siad Barre in 1991. 

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