Somalia

Somali foes sign ceasefire deal in Djibouti

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NAIROBI, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Somalia's government signed a ceasefire agreement with some opposition figures on Sunday, meeting a key demand by giving a date for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces backing the interim administration.

More then 10,000 people have been killed and a million displaced in fighting since early last year, pitting President Abdullahi Yusuf's government and allied Ethiopian forces against Islamist rebels -- mainly the al Shabaab militia, listed by Washington as a terrorist group.

Islamist insurgents have stepped up their attacks on government and Ethiopian targets in recent months, vowing not to relent until Addis Ababa withdraws its soldiers from Somalia.

"Effective 26 October 2008, ceasefire observance has been announced. It will become effective 5 November 2008 ... starting 21 November 2008 the Ethiopian troops will relocate from areas of the cities of Beledweyn and Mogadishu," the agreement said.

"The second phase of the troop withdrawal shall be completed within 120 days," said the deal, signed in Djibouti by the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) opposition.

It remained unclear when exactly the last Ethiopian troops would leave Somalian territory.

An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force will be responsible for security in the areas vacated by Ethiopian forces, with the help of Somali government troops and opposition ARS security forces, until the deployment of U.N. forces, the deal said.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991 and the transitional government is the 14th attempt to establish one.

(Reporting by Wangui Kanina; editing by Andrew Roche)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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