Saturday, October 23, 2004

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Agence France-Presse) — Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf today will request the African Union (AU) to deploy about 20,000 peacekeepers to the Horn of Africa country to help disarm militias and restore stability, an AU spokesman said.

Mr. Yusuf will make the request while addressing the AU’s Peace and Security Council, spokesman Adam Thiam told reporters in Addis Ababa.

“The president on Monday will make an official request for a peacekeeping force of around 20,000 troops to help disarm the warlords in Somalia,” Mr. Thiam said.

“[Mr. Yusuf] estimates that there are around 15 million small arms in the streets of Somalia,” Mr. Thiam said.

The pan-Africa body’s spokesman did not estimate the cost of sending the force to Somalia.

Mr. Yusuf, who is on a three-day visit to Addis Ababa, where the AU is headquartered, was expected to meet AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Ethiopian government officials to discuss issues of peace and development.

Mr. Yusuf, a veteran Somali faction leader and soldier, was sworn in as the new president of Somalia on Thursday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by members of the Somali transitional federal assembly.

During his swearing in, Mr. Yusuf urged the international community to help his nascent administration disarm the hundreds of gunmen allied to various clan-related factions across the country.

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