Somalia

Somalia: UN envoy wraps up visit, Government pledges to work to end rift

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The top United Nations envoy for Somalia has wrapped up private talks in the town of Jowhar with senior Somali officials who pledged to work with the UN to heal the rift over the government's location and the deployment of foreign peacekeepers that stalled the latest attempt to re-establish a central authority in the war-shattered Horn of Africa nation.

According to a UN spokesman in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, returned to Nairobi yesterday after talks in Jowhar with President Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi of the Transitional Federal Government.

Mr. Fall was in Somalia to help the leaders overcome the current differences within the Transitional Federal Institutions on the way forward, particularly on the relocation of the fledgling government from Kenya to Somalia, which has had no functional central authority for 14 years following the collapse in 1991 of the government of Muhammad Siad Barre.

Yesterday's meeting also focused on security and reconciliation. At a joint press conference following the meeting, Prime Minister Gedi expressed the Government's willingness to work with the UN and in particular with Mr. Fall on resolving the current difficulties, the spokesman said.

In a June report, the Secretary-General noted that although the interim government had been formed in Nairobi more than eight months ago, deep splits between President Yusef and Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan over its location within the country had stalled a move either to the Somali capital Mogadishu, or nearby Jowhar.

Calling for "serious dialogue" between the Somali factions to end this controversy, he also urged the parties to resolve their differences over the inclusion of troops from the frontline States (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya) in a future African Union/Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace support mission requested by the President. A large number of members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and other leaders oppose the deployment of troops from those countries.

Meanwhile, security permitting, Mr. Fall plans to visit Mogadishu later this week for discussions with the Speaker of Parliament, and other cabinet officials and civil society groups there.