'Force needed in Somalia'

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The Independent Online
BOUTROS Boutros-Ghali said yesterday there was no alternative to the use of force to ensure delivery of aid to Somalia.

In a letter to the United Nations Security Council President, Andre Erdos of Hungary, the UN Secretary-General indicated he favoured a military operation under UN command and control. 'There is now no alternative but to resort to Chapter Seven,' Mr Boutros-Ghali said. Chapter Seven of the UN charter authorises the use of force if international peace and security are threatened.

The Washington Post yesterday morning quoted a US official as saying that the UN would have to step in and run the country as a protectorate after a US military takeover. Later the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, said the US had no interest in governing the country or changing its structure.

'Our interest is on working with . . . a UN plan to ensure the safety of relief supplies. Most feel that that would require military action of some kind,' said Mr Fitzwater. However, the source who spoke to the Washington Post at President Bush's retreat at Kennebunkport, Maine, said: 'Somalia has no government now, none. It needs some kind of structure . . . You may need . . . a UN protectorate, which the UN would manage and (then) try to turn back into a state . . . maybe even something longer- term . . . where the UN would go in and actually set up an interim government and hold elections.'

US military planners were quoted as saying that they would have no problem occupying a mainly flat, arid country like Somalia where the opposition is disorganised. If sent, US troops would be used to secure airstrips and ports and guard relief convoys. They could 'probably' be out of Somalia in less than a month, the military sources said.

The US force is expected to operate within UN structures but under US control. Mr Boutros-Ghali is to report to the Security Council this week on military intervention. The US is pressing for a change in the rules of engagement to allow UN troops to fire first on anyone preventing them from delivering humanitarian aid. Prominent Somali exiles asked about the proposed intervention were divided in their reponse. Mohammed Jama Elmi, the former Somali ambassador to London, said he welcomed the suggestion and would give it wholehearted support. 'We Somalis didn't solve our problems ourselves so it needs someone to come and bring order.' Mohammed Hersi, a former lieutenant- colonel in the Somali army, said the proposal was wrong-headed. 'To invade a country you need an enemy, land to capture and a mission. All three are missing.'

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