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AU says critical for int'l community to take advantage of "new opportunity" in Somalia

(Xinhua)

10:42, January 12, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on Wednesday said that it is critical for the international community to take advantage of the "new opportunity to harness in order to give a final blow to the terrorist forces of Al-Shabaab" in Somalia.

Speaking on behalf of the AU, Chrispus Kiyonga, defense minister of Uganda, addressed a Security Council open door meeting on Somalia.

"This briefing on Somalia is taking place at a time when we can look back and say we have made visible progress in moving forward to stabilize Somalia," Kiyonga said. "We can say that now there are prospects; there is anew opportunity to harness in order to give a final blow to the terrorist forces of Al-Shabaab."

With Uganda and Burundi acting through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Al-Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, he said.

"We have created the environment for international actors to safely travel in and out of Mogadishu," he said.

The new situation that "gives us optimism" that Al-Shabaab can be defeated were steps taken by Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, Kiyonga said.

"First I want to commend the Republic of Kenya for taking two important steps; pursuing the Al-Shabaab terrorists into Somalia in defense of their country, and taking the decision to now be part and parcel of the AMISOM force," he said.

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