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Daunting Task for New Somalia Government

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Section: International News Geography: Africa Somalia Topics: peacekeeping

November 6, 2004

Daunting Task for New Somalia Government

by Nathan Lepp

Following his own appointment in October as president, former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed has named Ali Mohamed Ghedi as prime minister and has given him a month to name a cabinet.

A member of the Darol clan, Yusuf's decision to appoint a Hawiye to the position is the first step in attempting to reconcile the clan-based divisions that have plagued the Somali peace process. Since the downfall of Siad Barre in 1991, the country has been without an effective central government, having been ruled by competing regional warlords backed by armed militias. Up to 300 000 people have been killed, and over two million displaced.

Thirteen previous peace initiatives and two attempts to establish a new government have failed to bring lasting peace. With virtually no infrastructure and no established revenue, no civil service, nor any buildings for officials to meet in, the new government faces overwhelming logistical obstacles to establishing itself in Mogadishu. The security situation in the country remains volatile to the extent that the new government must currently operate out of Nairobi in neighboring Kenya - host of the peace process over the last two years. Estimates suggest that over 55 000 militia remain throughout the country, carrying more than two million small arms.

Yusuf has called for significant help in both resources and peacekeeping forces so as to speed up the process of pacifying the country. While regional leaders and foreign observers agree that military help from African countries would be politically preferable, it is questionable whether the continent could provide the 20 000 peacekeepers Yusuf has requested. With growing crises in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other countries on the continent, resources are already stretched thin. And with the memories of the last UN peacekeeping effort in Somalia still lingering, the international community will likely be cautious about mandating the deployment of troops from outside Africa.

» IOL (South Africa): New PM to spearhead reconciliation process

» IRIN News: Hundreds of thousands killed in years of war, says new president

» Reuters AlertNet: Crisis Profile: Is peace possible in Somalia?

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