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Recent Progress In Somali Peace Talks

Top UN Envoy Welcomes Recent Progress In Somali Peace Talks

New York, Nov 26 2008 2:10PM

The senior United Nations envoy to Somalia today welcomed the latest round of talks on critical issues – such as justice and reconciliation, the unity government and security issues – to further the peace process in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation.

“I am very pleased to see the concerned parties moving forward with the support of the United Nations and the international community in accordance with the Djibouti Agreement,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, referring to the peace deal reached in June with his help.

Under that pact, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled nation, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991.

A meeting of the High-Level Committee set up by the Agreement wrapped up yesterday in Djibouti, with participants agreeing to add 75 additional seats to the Parliament and reach out to groups outside the peace process, including women, the private sector and the diaspora.

Those at the meeting agreed to the principle of sharing leadership positions and to extend the transitional period by two years.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah characterized the gathering as “very encouraging because it advances the commitment made by both sides to form an inclusive Parliament and Unity Government.”

The parties will now hold consultations with their respective constituencies, allies and leadership before meeting again under UN auspices.

Somalia has been beset by fighting and massive humanitarian suffering for the past two decades but the violence has flared anew this year, particularly in and around the capital, Mogadishu, and caused widespread displacement.

Last month, the two sides signed accords on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict, the establishment of a unity government and military forces and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

Discussions on security are expected to focus on how the sides will address practical matters, such as final arrangements for ending armed confrontation and forming joint transitional forces, the envoy said.

“We hope that the concerted efforts made here and the momentum gained in these last few days continue so that the new year sees Somali leaders working together, wholeheartedly and committed to the dignity of the Somali people,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

ENDS

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