African Union urges UN force for Somalia

The African Union wants the Security Council to approve a UN peacekeeping force for Somalia to help the new government there restore peace and stability after 18 years of anarchy. The council adopted a resolution in December expressing its intention to establish a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia to replace the African Union force in the capital, Mogadishu. But it set a June 1 deadline for a final decision to assess the volatile situation in the country. Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union's commissioner for peace and security, told the council on Friday that the security situation in Somalia remains volatile. Still, he said, the election of a new president and the government's return to the capital should be supported by the international community and the Security Council - including with approval of a UN peacekeeping mission. This, he said, would to ensure "that the current window of opportunity so far created in Somalia would not have been lost."