Global Policy Forum

UN Envoy Calls for Political Solution to Conflict in Somalia

April 13, 2007

African ministers kicked off a meeting in Nairobi on Friday to review latest developments in Somalia, during which a UN envoy called for a political solution to conflict in the war-torn nation. United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Somalia Francois Lonseny Fall expressed deep concern over the dire situation in the war-torn country where fighting between the Ethiopian-backed transitional government and insurgents has driven out thousands of civilians. "A political solution has to be found and this is where we have to seize the opportunities presented to us. Peace in Somalia at this point needs genuine reconciliation through an inclusive dialogue," Fall told Council of Ministers from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting in Nairobi.

Violence in the capital has increased since the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian forces, ousted the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) from Mogadishu and much of the rest of the country at the end of last year. Mortar rounds and other fire have since killed many civilians in residential areas and settlements housing 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and displaced over 125,000 others. Fall urged the seven-nation regional grouping to expedite the full deployment of the African Union troops to Somalia and promote reconciliation efforts in the war-ravaged nation. "We would like to urge IGAD to continue to assist the AU's efforts to facilitate the completion of AMISOM's deployment. The AU, the IGAD, the League of Arab States and the UN must also work very closely to promote an all-inclusive dialogue and comprehensive political settlement in Somalia," said the UN envoy.

Fall noted plans to establish a National Governance and Reconciliation Committee consisting of six imminent Somali personalities and to convene a congress in Mogadishu in mid-May, but pointed out that the security of the venue remains an issue. The recent fighting started late last month when Ethiopian troops used tanks and attack helicopters in an offensive to crush insurgents.

The insurgents are linked to the Islamists, which was driven from power in December by Somali and Ethiopian soldiers, accompanied by U.S. Special Forces. The United States has accused the courts of having ties to al-Qaida. The militants reject any secular government, and have sworn to fight until Somalia becomes an Islamic emirate. Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew military strongman Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned against each other.

A transitional government was established in 2004 in neighboring Kenya, but has failed to assert any real control beyond Baidoa. The recent violence has forced officials to postpone until May 16 a reconciliation conference that had been scheduled for this month. The month-long talks were intended to reconcile faction leaders, clan leaders and politicians and pave a way forward for Somalia, which has been without a central rule for more than 16 years.

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