Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf denied yesterday that the African peacekeeping forces which are due to be deployed in his country are part of the Somali crisis and said their mission would be to help the government of his Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi establish security and law and order in the country that was destroyed by the civil war which broke out before 16 years.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from his temporary headquarters in the southern city of Baidoa, Yusuf said that these forces, which fought a long diplomatic and political battle to persuade the international community to accept them, would not get involved in any internal conflict and would not raise any weapons against the Somali people. He added: “These forces are part of the solution and will not be under any circumstances part of the problem. Anyone who thinks they are an invading force is wrong. They are friendly forces that want to help us and will enter our territories at our request and for a specific mission, namely, that of achieving peace.”
The Somali president stressed that he did not have any doubts that the Somali people would deal with these forces in a positive way, contrary to the claims by some. He then called on the Arab and Islamic countries to contribute to the financing of these forces so that they can carry out their tasks. He asserted that the African peacekeeping forces’ entry into Somalia’s territories would be systematic and they would replace the Ethiopian forces that have in fact started to withdraw from Somalia after completing their mission of helping the Somali Government’s regular forces get rid of the Islamic Courts organization, which he said did great harm to the Somali people and helped shelter a number of extremists from all over the world.
Yusuf called on the Somali people to cooperate with the African peacekeeping forces and said they are coming to us as guests and friends and not as invaders.