A Freetown-based NGO has opposed the pending deployment of Sierra Leonean troops in Somalia.
Over 800 Sierra Leonean troops are at an advanced stage of preparation for deployment in restive Southern Somalia as part of the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMSOM ).
A few weeks back the Somali militant group, Al – Shabaab, warned the Sierra Leone government against the deployment, sparking heated media debate about the rationale behind the government`s decision to deploy.
The Pan-African Community Movement (PACM), becomes the first organised group to issue a statement, Saturday, calling the government`s decision “wrong” and stressed that the problem in Somalia cannot be resolved by military means.
“The deployment of Sierra Leonean soldiers in Somalia is wrong,” the organisation said, adding that it could only be seen by the Somali people as “an attempt by the rulers of Sierra Leone to be part of the greater conspiracy, sponsored by western imperialist forces to dominate and further the long suffering of the people of Somalia and deepen the conflict.”
The deployment, the group further argued, might also endanger Sierra Leonean citizens, as Al-Shabaab has already threatened to do.
The group insists it is not opposed to the involvement of Sierra Leonean soldiers in resolving African problems, but that it believed search for solution in Somalia is driven “by outside forces”.
A number of foreign nations, including the United States and UK, have been involved in the preparation of the Sierra Leonean contingent. US is believed to have spent over $50 million in procurement of military wares.
Recently, the Sierra Leonean government vowed to go ahead with the deployment, describing it as a fulfilment of its regional responsibility for a country that had benefitted from similar help.