19 January 2007The top United Nations envoy for Somalia went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today for a meeting of the African Union (AU) that is expected to discuss plans for the speedy deployment of a protection force and training mission to back the transitional Government there after it ousted Islamist groups with Ethiopian help. The visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative François Lonsény Fall to attend the AU Peace and Security Council follows his trip yesterday to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he called on the transitional Government to seize this “rare opportunity” to expand its authority and prevent a resurgence of the warlords who tore the country apart for the past 16 years. “The Council is expected to consider the situation in Somalia and discuss the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1725, which authorizes the creation of a protection force and training mission in Somalia to help protect the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions,” the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), based in Nairobi, Kenya, said. Under the resolution the new force, to be known as IGASOM, is to be set up by the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African group, and have an initial mandate of six months. No countries bordering Somalia will be able to deploy troops.Among the issues on today’s agenda is the need for the AU and IGAD to deploy its forces expeditiously to facilitate the earliest possible withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops currently protecting the transitional Government.Since the ouster of the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), which seized control of Mogadishu in June and progressively extended its control, UN officials from Secretary-General Ban down have underscored the historic opportunity the country now has to restore peace and stability to a country that has had no functioning central government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.