THE UN Security Council is set to ease a two decade old arms embargo against Somalia to help the new government in its battle against Islamist militants, diplomats say.
The United States has been supporting a campaign by the Somali government for the embargo to be ended, while Britain and France have been more reluctant to let more arms into a country already awash with guns, diplomats said.
The measure is likely to be part of a council resolution renewing the mandate of the African Union military force in Somalia which should be passed on Wednesday next week.
The Security Council imposed a total arms embargo in 1992 as feuding warlords battled for control of the country after ousting dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
A UN diplomat said Britain is drafting the resolution which set out the new measures, but that negotiations are still being held.
The council could decide to ease the embargo against government purchases of arms for a year but exclude certain types of weaponry such as air defence systems, the diplomat said.
“There is a a good argument for sending a strong signal that the new government is increasingly exercising sovereignty, and on the other hand continuing concerns about security,” the diplomat said.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office last year, but is still kept in power mainly by the 17,000 strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), toured western capitals last month to demand an end to the embargo.