NEW YORK (Sh.M.Network)—The UN Security Council has given the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia a seven-day extension while it weighs a request to end the arms embargo on Somalia’s government.
U.N. diplomats said that the council remained divided on the union’s request to begin allowing the sale of arms to the Somali government. It is also split on calls to permit the export of stocks of charcoal, the Islamist al Shabaab rebels’ principal source of funds, from the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation.
“I expect the arms embargo may remain in place for the time being,” a council diplomat said. “There’s no consensus on lifting it.” Other envoys said they would continue discussions.
The Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.N. mandate of the African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping force, which was due to expire at the end of Wednesday, until Nov. 7. Council diplomats said that they would prepare a resolution by next Wednesday that would extend the mandate for a full year.
Diplomats said they would use the next week to complete closed-door discussions on Somalia that were interrupted with the arrival on Monday of the superstorm Sandy, which brought power outages and chaos to much of Manhattan and caused flooding at U.N. headquarters along New York City’s East River.
Due to flooding in the current Security Council chambers, Wednesday’s meeting took place in a temporary container-like structure built to house parts of the U.N. secretariat and conference rooms during a years-long renovation of the main buildings due to finish in 2013.
The African Union has appealed to the council to review its arms embargo on Somalia to help the country rebuild its army and consolidate recent military gains against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.
Somalia wants help strengthening its poorly equipped and often ill-disciplined military that is more of a loosely affiliated umbrella group of rival militias than a cohesive fighting force loyal to a single president.
The council imposed the embargo in 1992 to cut the flow of arms to feuding warlords, who a year later ousted Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged Somalia into civil conflict.