The South African cabinet is set to hold a meeting on Wednesday 18th August to discuss the possible deployment of its troops to Mogadishu, the troubled capital of Somalia. African Union (AU) troops, known as Amisom, are already active in the capital city. The planned meeting is considered by some as a response to intensifying pressure from the AU and United Nations (UN), which are keen for South Africa to assist in suppressing al Shabaab, the Islamic insurgency group embroiled in the Somali war. Al Shabaab, linked to al Qaeda, also claims to be behind the July 11th bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala that caused the deaths of 76 civilians, injuring many more.
Spokesman for the South African government, Themba Maseko, has reportedly confirmed that the meeting is to go ahead, amid brewing speculation that President Zuma will consent to AU chairman Jean Ping’s request for military support. During last month’s AU summit, member states including South Africa pledged to increase the number of soldiers in the war-ravaged country to 8,000. There are currently 6,300 Amisom troops occupying the East African region, the majority of which are Ugandan.
If South Africa decides to offer the manpower needed to boost Amisom, and to subdue al Shabaab, it will be in-keeping with calls for that country to play a more active role within the AU.