Somalia

Somalia: Interim president moves to Jowhar

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NAIROBI, 27 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Somalia's interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and his entourage on Tuesday arrived in the town of Jowhar, 90 km north of the capital, Mogadishu, to join the prime minister in the temporary seat of the transitional government, officials said.

"He is there to set up base and will continue to work from there [Jowhar]," Dahir Mire Jibril, the president's chief-of-staff, told IRIN on Wednesday.

Yusuf, Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi and supporters in the fractious Transitional Federal Government (TFG) are trying to set up interim state institutions in Jowhar pending the restoration of security to the capital, which they say is currently too unsafe.

Yusuf travelled to Jowhar from his northeastern hometown of Galkayo in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.

Jibril said the president would visit other parts of Somalia, "especially the south", although no date had been set for the visit.

Upon arrival in Jowhar, interim government officials, led by Gedi, and "hundreds of residents" received the president, Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'alimow, a Jowhar-based journalist, said.

Ibrahim said Yusuf had told members of the public who had gathered to welcome him that his administration "will begin work on restoring law and order and stability" to the country.

"Civil Society groups and the members of the government in Mogadishu are working very hard to secure it [Mogadishu] so the president can visit," Jibril told IRIN.

A section of the government, including prominent faction leaders, disagreed with the decision to install the administration in Jowhar. About 100 members of the interim 275-strong parliament, led by Speaker Sharif Hassan Shaykh Aden, are currently in Mogadishu attempting to restore stability to the war-scarred city.

Yusuf and Aden met in Yemen in June but failed to resolve their differences over the government's location.

Somalia has had no functional central authority for the past 14 years, following the collapse in 1991 of the government of Muhammad Siyad Barre. Civil war erupted in the country soon after Barre was toppled, as various factions and rival warlords fought for power.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, which is made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, sponsored two years of talks between the various Somali clans and factions, culminating in the establishment of the TFG in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in October 2004.

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