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UN not in favour of UN peacekeepers for Somali

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 14 (KUNA) -- A UN official on Thursday said the current conditions in Somalia do not allow the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation and recommended instead the establishment of a UN Assistance Mission.
Addressing the Security Council as it examined the next stage of the UN engagement in Somalia, Assistance Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun said the UN Assistance Mission, as recommended by UN Chief Ban Ki-moon in his latest report, "reflects the best current option" for the UN to provide support to peace building and to meet other development and humanitarian objectives.
He suggested that the Council liquidate the UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), which "is not configured to provide the support required" by the new Government, and establish instead a "broader peace-building Mission," short of a peacekeeping force.
"The Secretary-General remains committed to full structural integration as soon as the conditions allow, and to keeping the option of a UN peacekeeping operation under review for the future," Zerihoun said.
He conceded that the growing expanse of territory liberated from Islamist militants Al-Shabab has created an "opportunity" for the Federal Government to extend its control over the country and enhance its legitimacy amongst Somalis, adding that the Government is working to fill the vacuum through an inclusive bottom up approach.
"Despite several attacks by Al-shabab, there is now a tangible sense of security and optimism in Mogadishu," he said. However, he added, Al-shabab "is not yet defeated, and its presence continues to hamper freedom of movement for Somalis and those who would assist them".
On Somalia's request for the Council to ease the arms embargo on the Government to facilitate the development of the Somalia security sector, Zerihoun said Ban is rather for a "calibrated" approach based on all the factors at play in order to avoid the proliferation of "uncontrolled" weapons that could exacerbate the security situation.
His view was not shared by Fawzia Adam, Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, who told the Council that the lifting of the arms embargo is a "prerequisite" for consolidating peace in the recovered areas from Al-shabab, and to allow the National Armed Forces to assume "full responsibility for our own security".
"The Somali Government reiterates its request for lifting the arms embargo. (It) will put in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure that armaments do not fall into the wrong hands," she stressed.
She noted that Al-shabab is "weakened, its leadership in disarray and on the run. We are committed to continue the fight against this scourge until the final victory is realized".
She said "we have no illusions" about the "serious challenges" that remain, despite the progress in different areas.
She said her Government seeks a "permanent partnership" with the UN, its member states and the entire UN family to assist the country until "we are fully able to stand on our own feet".
"Our strong position is that there must be an integrated UN Mission, which would bring the system to deliver and speak as one," she said, inviting Council members to visit Somalia in the near future to witness the "dramatic changes and opportunities". (end) sj KUNA 142229 Feb 13NNNN