Thursday, December 23, 2010By: Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press|
The legal adviser to Somalia's government says the private training of an anti-piracy force in the capital Mogadishu is being hindered because the country that wants to finance it doesn't want to be named.
Pierre Prosper, a former U.S. ambassador for war crimes who was retained by the transitional government as an adviser on security, transparency and anti-corruption issues, said in telephone press conference Friday that he has made clear to the donor that it's important to remove the mystery because it has become the focal point of the project.
"To have this kind of disclosure, everyone can come to the table and talk about the substance rather than talk about the mystery," he said, adding he hoped the donor would agree to reveal its identity by January.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the Somali government is considering allowing the security company, Saracen International, to train a 1,000-man anti-piracy force in Mogadishu that would hit the pirates on their land bases. The company is already training a 1,000-man force in northern Puntland, an autonomous region where the pirates have havens.
Prosper said 156 people attended the first eight-week training course and a second class of similar size is currently being trained.
A multinational naval armada has been trying to protect international shipping, but there are no forces on land trying to tackle the pirate problem on land.
The AP reported that the training project in Puntland — and the one in Mogadishu — would be funded by an unknown Muslim country.
It's unclear how any of the Saracen-trained forces could be supplied with arms and ammunition.
Somali Ambassador Mohamed Ali Nur told the AP in Nairobi that the projects would be careful to obey a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and not import weapons, but the arms embargo also forbids the provision on military services to any faction unless it has been cleared with the U.N. sanctions committee.
Prosper said he visited Nairobi twice in recent weeks and met with members of the U.N. expert group monitoring sanctions "to better appreciate their issues, their concerns, to help ensure that the process as it goes forward is in compliance with the sanctions regime, the arms embargo."