26 October 2008 The senior United Nations envoy to Somalia has welcomed the agreement between the country's transitional government and Islamist rebels on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict, the establishment of a unity government and military forces and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed two accords today in neighbouring Djibouti after three days of talks backed by the UN and the wider international community.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, congratulated the TFG and the ARS for the cooperation and work that led to the accords.
“Somalis will be very pleased by the important progress made in Djibouti and the positive steps taken here,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said, according to a press release issued by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). “It is a sign of the commitment of the parties to pushing forward with the Djibouti Agreement [an accord reached in June].”
The leaders of the two delegations to the joint security committee, set up under the Djibouti Agreement, agreed today that a ceasefire will become effective in the Horn of Africa nation on 5 November.
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 nominal capital, Mogadishu, and caused widespread displacement. The country has not had a functioning national government since 1991.
Last week the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that more than 35,000 residents of Mogadishu had to flee their homes in the past month, taking the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to at least 1 million. A persistent drought across the region is exacerbating the situation for the displaced.
Today's agreement also includes provision for the relocation of Ethiopian troops, which have been backing the TFG, and for measures to be put in place to avoid a subsequent security vacuum.
This involves the African Union peace force known as AMISOM, with the joint assistance of TFG and ARS forces, until a UN peacekeeping force can be deployed.
Somali Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalam Aden and ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed signed a separate joint declaration that welcomes the leadership of the UN and the assistance of the international community in the early establishment of a unity government.
The declaration stipulates that this government would be open to all Somali nationals and would also involve an inclusive parliament.
“Some very important principles have now been established. The challenge is to ensure that concrete action is taken to show the Somali people how this will benefit them,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.
Today's signing ceremony was attended, among others, by representatives of the AU, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the European Commission (EC), Djibouti, Egypt, France, Italy and the United States, as well as by members of civil society.
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