Somalia: Monitoring committee warns over rising tension

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

NAIROBI, 7 July (IRIN) - The reported increase in weapons entering Somalia in violation of a UN embargo and continuing differences between Somali leaders are fuelling tension in that country, a committee monitoring the peace process has warned.

"The international community calls the attention of all Somali leaders as well as regional and other countries to the 1992 [UN] arms embargo on Somalia and recalls declarations by all Somali leaders to avoid arms as a solution to differences," the joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Committee (CMC), said in a statement.

The statement issued on Tuesday after a CMC meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, also cited reports of increased militia movements in Somalia.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Somalia, Francois Fall, chaired the meeting. It was attended by representatives of the African Union, the European Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the US and other donors to Somalia.

"The international community demands a halt to the supply, delivery and reception of arms and calls for the respect of the arms embargo," the CMC said.

It pointed out that there had been an increase in tension, both in terms of media rhetoric and reported militia movements.

"Any resort to military force either in offence or pre-emptive defence will be unacceptable to the international community as the means for dealing with the current differences within the Transitional Federal Institutions [TFIs]," the statement added.

Sources in Nairobi said the statement referred to "threatening statements issued by people on both sides" of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which has been split by disagreements over a number of issues, including where the government should be based.

Fall told IRIN that there was "a lot of suspicion" between the two rival groups within the Somali government, and said the CMC statement was intended to "prevent any preemptive action by one group against the other".

The Somali transitional president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and the prime minister, Ali Mohammad Gedi, have chosen the town of Jowhar, 90 km north of Mogadishu, as the temporary seat of government. They maintain that Mogadishu is currently too insecure to establish state institutions.

On the other hand, the speaker of parliament, Sharif Hassan Shaykh Aden, his deputy, Mohamud Jama "Sifir", and about 100 members of the transitional parliament, including some influential cabinet ministers, insist the government should move to Mogadishu immediately.

"We urge Somali leaders to continue to work towards dialogue and understanding within the framework of the TFIs," the CMC added.

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.

IGAD, 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 that culminated in the establishment of the TFG in Nairobi in October 2004.

Meanwhile, President Yusuf has announced a plan to travel to southern Somalia from the town of Bossaso in the self-declared semi-autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast, the BBC reported on Wednesday. The report said Yusuf planned to go to Jowhar, where Gedi had already set up a base.


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