7 August 2007 The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Somalia François Lonsény Fall today called on the war-ravaged East African nation’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to invite opposition groups to join the reconciliation meeting currently under way in the capital Mogadishu.
“We would like to see the stakeholders who renounce violence inside and outside the country take part in this process,” Mr. Fall said in an address to the National Reconciliation Congress.
The international community firmly supports the reconciliation process and will contribute much-needed technical assistance to allow delegates to reach decisions to promote peace, he added.
The Special Envoy also appealed to participants to discuss all outstanding issues, including power-sharing and disarmament.
Before the meeting, Mr. Fall met with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and the reconciliation committee’s chairman Ali Mahdi Mohamed, at Mogadishu’s Presidential Palace.
The opening of the reconciliation congress on 14 July was followed by a series of deadly attacks targeting locations where the conference, which was suspended for several days, is taking place. The attacks have wounded and killed innocent bystanders, including children, and prompted scores of others to flee.
Hostilities in the country – which has had no functioning government for 16 years – flared up last year, culminating in the expulsion from Mogadishu in December of Islamist groups by the TFG, backed by Ethiopian troops.
According to UN figures, 340,000 people, or roughly one-third of Mogadishu’s population, have fled the city because of ongoing hostilities since February.