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UN Security Council due to vote on lifting arms embargo on Somalia

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The United Nations Security Council is due to vote today to remove the final restrictions on weapons deliveries to Somalia’s government and its security forces, diplomats said, more than 30 years after an arms embargo was first imposed on the country.

The council put the embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut the flow of weapons to feuding warlords, who had ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged the Horn of Africa country into civil war.

The 15-member body is due to adopt two British-drafted resolutions today, diplomats said – one to remove the full arms embargo on Somalia and another to reimpose an arms embargo on Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militants.

One of the draft resolutions spells out that “for the avoidance of doubt, there is no arms embargo on the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia.”

It also expresses concern about the number of safe ammunition storage facilities in Somalia and encourages the construction, refurbishment and use of safe ammunition depots across Somalia. It urges other countries to help.

Al Shabaab has been waging a brutal insurgency against the Somali government since 2006 to try to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Somalia’s government had long asked for the arms embargo to be removed so it could beef up its forces to take on the militants. The Security Council began to partially start lifting measures in Somalia’s security forces in 2013.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said last week that Somalia has one year to expel al Shabaab, with the deadline for remaining African Union peacekeepers to leave looming next December.

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