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AU, UN at odds over key Mogadishu road closure plan

By Jeff Mwaura,
NAIROBI – United Nations and African Union officials were deadlocked over a UN proposal to shut down a key road leading to Mogadishu airport amid increasing deadly attacks by the Al-Qaeda-linked group in Somalia, sources said on Wednesday.

Last week, United Nations officials convened a security meeting with AU and Somali government officials, proposing the closure of the airport road in fear of possible attacks on UN installations by the al-Shabab group.

“You do provide the money and we (AMISOM) also provide the blood (troops) and both are comparable contributions, so that plan is unwelcome to us.” Col. Osman Subagle, the African Union force’s new commander told UN officials during the meeting, according to sources who attended the meeting.

Outlining the new controversial plan, UN officials said that the global body would provide buses that’d ferry passengers between the airport and KM4, a key junction near the airport in Mogadishu from according to their plan the road would be closed.

During the meeting, AU officials have recommended the deployment of extra security forces along the road as an alternative, a suggestion dismissed by UN officials as ‘pointless’.

Meanwhile, Somali officials who were apparently careful in annoying UN officials have however held a middle ground, but then again called AU’s stand ‘considerable’.

The meeting which took place at the AU headquarters in Mogadishu on Tuesday which saw UN officials walked out of the conference hall in protest of AU’s refusal in approving their plan indicates how despite being allies in the Somalia stabilization process nonetheless remain at odds over the pressing security issue.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab group which has carried out multiple attacks on key institutions in Somalia including UN and AU facilities threatened more attacks in the horn of Africa nation which is gearing up for a presidential election which is due to take place on October 30 in a bid to disrupt the electoral poll.

reporter contributed to this report from Mogadishu

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