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As peace expands in Somalia, gov't wants weapons

Friday, November 02, 2012    

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Should Somalia's fledgling government be allowed to import weapons to arm its nascent military? With areas under government control increasing and the threat from al-Shabab militants decreasing, that's the question being put to the UN Security Council.

The African Union this week appealed to the council to allow arms and other military equipment into the country to equip Somalia's military. It is a request being made as the international community begins to look at how long it will be before Somali troops can provide security on their own, allowing the departure of African Union troops, who have been in Somalia since 2007.

Somalia's ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur, said yesterday that it is time to increase the capabilities of the country's military, after a year of military and political progress. The Islamist extremist rebels were pushed out of Mogadishu in August 2011, and over the last three months a new government has been installed.

"Now we are a government and a sovereign country and we will request through the U.N. to lift the arms embargo so we can arm our forces," Nur said.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has asked the U.N. to adjust its arms embargo so that the government can bring in rifles, light machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades with which to fight the militants. The embargo, the argument goes, was designed to keep arms away from al-Shabab, not the government.

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