After a long delay, Sierra Leone’s contingent to the African Union Somalia peacekeeping force (Amisom) AMISOM is set to depart for the country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma was on hand Monday to bid farewell to the troops in their “historic expedition to Somalia”.
Back in December 2010, the government had pledged to contribute an infantry battalion comprising 850 soldiers to the UN-backed Amisom force that is fighting Islamist Al-Shabaab forces.
That was followed by the signing of an memorandum of understanding with the AU a year later. The MoU also committed the continental bloc through the UN to help with the necessary logistics.
“Today, after more than 12 months of rigorous training and logistical preparation, the gallant [Sierra] Leone Battalion 1 is adequately prepared and ready to deploy. We applaud the governments of the United States and the UK for their invaluable support to making this possible,” President Koroma, clad in full military fatigue, told the soldiers.