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UN Envoy To Somalia Says Dialogue Is Essential

UN ENVOY TO SOMALIA SAYS DIALOGUE IS ESSENTIAL; COULD PAVE THE WAY FOR OBSERVER FORCE

New York, Aug 1 2006 2:00PM

Stressing the importance of continued dialogue between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, the senior United Nations envoy to the war-torn country said today that once a peace deal has been negotiated there may be a role for an unarmed observer force as a “neutral third party” in the conflict.

François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, made his remarks at an emergency regional meeting of African countries, called by Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to “address the unfolding crisis in Somalia,” the UN said in a press release.

“The Security Council has repeatedly emphasized the need to establish a comprehensive and verifiable ceasefire,” Mr. Fall said. “It is necessary to have the agreement of all parties not to engage in hostilities in any form and for their forces to remain in place and not make any move that could be seen by others to be provocative.”

“Once an agreement has been negotiated, there may be a role for the peace support mission, as a neutral third party, to observe and possibly monitor the ceasefire through the deployment of a relatively small, unarmed observer force.”

Mr. Fall told the meeting, comprised of ministers from member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), that such an initial force could then become “the first phase in a staggered approach” to the deployment of a peace support mission. IGAD groups together Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia,
Sudan and Uganda.

He also told the ministers that the Security Council had expressed its willingness to consider a request from the African Union for a partial lifting of the UN arms embargo, to pave the way for the possible deployment of such a mission. But he emphasized that any deployment depended on the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts, which recently took over the Somali capital Mogadishu, reaching a peace agreement by continuing their dialogue.

Mr. Fall also stressed the importance of wider diplomacy in dealing with what he described as a “critical stage” in the political process of Somalia, which has not had a functioning Government since President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.

“Every step that we as the international community takes can either improve or worsen the situation on the ground. Any decision we take can make all the difference between the consolidation of peace or its unravelling. It is therefore very important to take each step with due consideration and extreme care and to refrain from any action that could exacerbate the tense situation in Somalia.”

2006-08-01 00:00:00.000

ENDS

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