NAIROBI, 3 February - The governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda have expressed their commitment to supporting a peace mission for Somalia by providing troops or equipment to the envisaged force, a statement said.
The leaders of the six countries met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Monday, as members of the Intergovernmetal Authority on Development (IGAD) on the sidelines of the African Union summit.
"There is an urgent need to provide security support to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to ensure its relocation to Somalia and guarantee sustenance of the IGAD peace process," they said in a joint communiqué.
IGAD, which groups Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda as well as Somalia, sponsored peace talks between Somalia's various clans and factions that culminated in the establishment of the Somali transitional federal government in 2004.
The newly created government, however, remains in Nairobi, where it was set up, because security concerns and lack of resources have prevented members of the administration from moving to Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
The IGAD heads of state, who met under the chairmanship of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, instructed the IGAD secretariat, in collaboration with the African Union, to establish a fund to cover expenses for the deployment of the peace support mission.
They urged defence ministers and military chiefs of countries that would contribute troops and materiel to the mission to meet "urgently" to discuss, in consultation with the Somali government, the details and modalities of deploying the envisaged force in Somalia.
The leaders also gave Museveni the mandate to seek from other countries in the region, AU members states and the international community troops, financial and technical support for the peace mission.
The IGAD heads of state "requested AU member states to give them the mandate for the deployment of a peace support mission to Somalia and expressed their hope that ultimately the mandate will be endorsed by the United Nations".