Somali leader urges quick deployment of UN forces to troubled nation

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New York_(dpa) _ Somalia's transitional government leader urged the United Nations Security Council Thursday to send peacekeepers to support democratic and security programmes aimed at ending years of tribal conflicts.

Ali Mohammed Ghedi, the prime minister of the Transitional Federal Government, appeared before the 15-nation council in New York to demand what he called the Somali right to have a peacekeeping force.

"For the sake of the Somali people, there is a need to strengthen peace and security," Ghedi told reporters.

He said he remains "optimistic" that the national reconciliation campaign launched to end the decades-long division among clans and sub-clans. He said those factions can return to normalcy and join the reconciliation campaign if they renounce violence.

In a report to the UN council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Somalia now has a "good opportunity" to create conditions for peace and reconciliation. He said he remains concerned by issues of security and whether reconciliation programmes would bring the desired results.

"A genuine and all inclusive dialogue and political process is the only way to achieve sustainable peace in Somalia," the report said.

The UN said this week that more people have continued to flee the war-torn capital Mogadishu as violence has escalated. It reported in May that 400,000 people, or one-third of the capital's population, had fled between February and May because of the fighting between transitional forces and those of the Muslim-led authorities that occupied the capital at that time.

The transitional government was restored to power, backed by Ethiopian troops sent to Mogadishu to oust the Muslim forces. dpa tn aw

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