Botswana will not send any of its troops to Somalia as peacekeepers but will, instead, deploy them around Botswana in the intensifying war against poachers who continue to poach Botswana wildlife.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu Skelemani, has just arrived back from the African Union summit that was held in Uganda last week at which the AU wanted to deploy peace-keeping forces in Somalia.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Skelemani said, “We have to protect our wildlife rather than send troops to Somalia.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that we cannot send troops to Somalia because poachers are killing our wildlife, which is our revenue, therefore, members of the Botswana Defense Force have been deployed in anti poaching units as well as in the fight against Foot and Mouth, along with other national duties that they are already engaged in.”
He said Botswana has a very small number of troops and cannot afford to send any of them outside.
“The only thing that Botswana can assist with is by transporting troops of different countries, using Botswana aircraft from BDF,” he said.
About the threats made by Al Qaeda, he replied that, “Yes it is true that they made some threats to countries that send troops to Somalia but the government’s decision was not influenced by those threats.”
Asked if Somali officials had approached the Botswana government for troop assistance, Skelemani said they had not.
“The only country that approached us when they needed troop assistance was Sudan and Botswana responded positively by sending troops to Darfur,” he said.
Skelemani said Botswana has nothing bad against Somalia even though they are not sending any troops, adding that the AU is not forcing any country to send troops as peace keepers in Somalia.