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Djibouti Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamoud Ali Yussuf spoke with Somalia Report about his government's upcoming deployment of peacekeeping troops to Somalia during an interview with Abdikafar Hosh in Nairobi. Somalia Report's questions are in bold.
Can you tell us the number of troops that you will send to Somalia and the timeline for deployment?
Yes, I can confirm you that my government was training and preparing the troops to perform peacekeeping missions in Somalia. The concept that Djibouti is participating the peacekeeping operations in Somalia took the last few years to implement. Next month (October) we are deploying a battalion of 850 peacekeeping soldiers who are well trained and well equipped.
Our forces are working under the AMISOM mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia to restore peace and stability in the country. Uganda and Burundi initiated the process by deploying AMISOM peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu to reinforce the security and stability of the country.
During the summit on the Horn of Africa crisis we raised many different concepts towards stabilizing Somalia. We suggested partner countries should reinforce peace and security because supplying humanitarian relief effectively is possible if the security of the country is out of control. You cannot distribute humanitarian assistance to the affected people while the roads and the paths to reach the needy people are not safe.
Do you believe the African Union’s mission in Somalia can resolve the instability after more than two decades?
The importance of the African Union’s mission in Somalia is to resolve the insecurity of the country and to help of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to re-establish government institutions and the security of the war-torn country.
Our forces, like those from Uganda and Burundi, will help the Somali government in peacekeeping operations, training for their security forces, and helping Somalis regain their dignity and their independence as a nation.
We will help them to fight the international terrorists hiding in Somalia, both the capital of Mogadishu and the entire regions of the country, and we hope that mission can be successful and can create a peaceful and prosperous Somalia in the coming years if Allah wills.
We know that Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh visited in Mogadishu during Ramadan, but can you tell us what your government has allocated to respond the famine?
President Ismail Omar visited visited for IDP camps and Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu where he delivered food and medicine. Djibouti is a small country with a small gross domestic product, but I can confirm that we are ready to perform and fulfill our commitments to our Somali brothers and sisters who are dying of the starvation.
Many Somalis note Djibouti’s important peace seeking role in Somalia since 1991 as you have hosted three different reconciliation conferences. There are also many others, however, that blame your country for your initiative of the 4.5 clan formula for parliament during the Somali Reconciliation Conference 2000. How do you respond to that accusation?
My country is always cooperating with the Somali people and we will not stop our commitments towards supporting the cause of peace and stability in Somalia. Djibouti started its efforts during the collapse of the central government in 1991 when Djibouti's late President Hassan Gulled Abtidon hosted the first reconciliation gathering for the Somali factions and tribes in Djibouti to establish another central government.
Secondly, the 2000 Somalia reconciliation conference in Arta was facilitated by President Ismail Omar Guelleh who announced a mediation process between the Somali people considering their tribal affiliations. The Somali people negotiated and discussed the idea and then adopted the 4.5 clan formula.
The 4.5 clan formula for their parliament was the choice of the Somali people. Djibouti was only hosting the conference where they adopted this plan. Certainly there were specific circumstances that forced the Somali people to halve their government powers into clan formula, but from now or in the coming future the Somali people can choose another system and can definitely stop the 4.5 clan formula. It is up to them not to Djibouti.
Certainly Somalis are responsible for their internal affairs, but we and the other countries in the region have been assisting the Somali people during the last 20 years by opening a negotiation and a reconciliation process.