The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday to extend its authorization of the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia by a further six months.
The 15-member council also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon to consult with the African Union Commission on what further support might be provided to the African Union Mission.
The council also asked the UN chief to develop within 30 days " contingency planning for the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation" to take over from the African troops.
It authorized the African Union to take all necessary measures to support dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia by assisting with the free movement, safe passage and protection of all those involved with the ongoing National Reconciliation Congress.
The council urged all parties to participate in the political process, stressing the need to involve all stakeholders, including all political, clan and religious leaders, the business community, and representatives of civil society, such as women's groups.
In last February, the Security Council authorized the African Union to establish a mission in Somalia aimed at helping the war- ravaged country, which has not had a functioning government for over a decade and a half, to achieve national reconciliation and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.
But so far the AU mission is composed of only 1,500 Ugandan troops, far less than the 8,000 troops announced by the AU earlier this year.