Global Policy Forum

Somali Government Is Set Up Next Door

Associated Press
August 14, 2000

Djibouti, August 13 -- More than 2,000 Somalis meeting here formed a central government today after almost a decade of warfare in Somalia.

After a simple inauguration ceremony, men and women in traditional robes were sworn in as Somalia's new legislators. Much of Somalia remains under the control of warlords, who have not been able to agree on a government despite periodic negotiations, and it was unclear how the government formed today would take control without the backing of the warlords.

Somalia, with a population of seven million, has had no central government since opposition leaders joined forces to oust Muhammad Siad Barre in 1991. The country descended into chaos as faction leaders turned against one another.

The new 225-member Parliament grew out of talks by clan elders, intellectuals and business and religious leaders that began May 2 in Arta, 20 miles southwest of the city of Djibouti. The legislature will continue to meet in Djibouti, which borders Somalia, until a suitable location can be found in Somalia and security is guaranteed.

The conference, proposed by the president of Djibouti, Ismael Omar Gelleh, is the 13th effort to resolve Somalia's turmoil, and the first to involve members of civil society rather than just militia leaders. The country's infrastructure has been virtually destroyed and the Parliament has no money. Some of Somalia's warlords boycotted the conference, and the leaders of the breakaway regions of Somaliland and Puntland both oppose Mr. Gelleh's initiative.

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