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Addis Ababa, November 24, 2011 – East African leaders are due to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a Summit of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Friday, to discuss how the Kenyan troops operating inside Somalia could contribute to the overall success of the peace effort.

Kenyan officials have offered to transfer the troops currently in Somalia to an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to achieve early success of the operation against the Al Shabaab.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Lindsay Kiptines said here the Kenyan government was ready to convert the troops in Somalia into the AMISOM contingent but this would depend on the resolutions to be adopted at the Addis Ababa Summit. Kenyan and AMISOM officials have held separate meetings in Addis Ababa to plan how their forces would work together to achieve the objective of eliminating the Al Shabaab threat. Kenyan troops operating inside Somalia have lost a total of eight soldiers, five of them in a single helicopter crash. Two of the soldiers were killed by enemy fire and one soldier has been missing at sea.

The IGAD meeting is also important for Ethiopia, which said it could formally announce whether it was willing to send troops into Somalia. Ethiopian troops pulled out of Somalia in 2009 after staying on the ground for two years to dislodge a coalition of Islamist rulers who had taken control of Mogadishu. The AMISOM troops, currently numbering 9,000, are expected to receive a boost from Djibouti, whose plan to deploy inside Somalia has constantly been postponed since 2009.

The Djiboutian troops are expected in Somalia in January 2012. Kenyan military planners want the Djiboutian troops deployed Southwards to liberated territories previously under the Al Shabaab. Meanwhile, African Union’s Special Envoy, Jerry Rawlings, held talks in Nairobi with the Kenyan Defence Minister Yusuf Hajji on the coordination of the AMISOM troops with their Kenyan counterparts. Rawlings, the High Representative of the AU on Somalia, said the Somali crisis had been left to a few states and appealed for international assistance.

source: Afrique en ligne

By Rasaas