|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY SOMALIA SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE
The problems of Somalia should be solved now, so that it would not be a safe haven for terrorists, François Lonseny Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia told correspondents this afternoon at Headquarters.
Reporting on the Security Council meeting yesterday, he said he had briefed members on the newest developments in Somalia, including on the new political situation as a result of the capture of Mogadishu and some other districts by the Islamic Courts, the continued concerns about the humanitarian situation and the continued violations of the arms embargo.
The request of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union to seek exemption from the arms embargo for the possible deployment of an African peace support force, as well as a similar request from the Somali Transitional Federal Government to raise its national security forces, had also been addressed, he said. A draft Presidential Statement on the matter was still under discussion.
Answering correspondents’ questions, Mr. Fall said a security team had made a one day visit to Mogadishu some days ago to assess how humanitarian aid could be delivered. They had met with Islamic Court leaders there. Sunday, the United Nations Coordinator in Nairobi had visited the city. Apparently, the situation in town had been calm until last weekend, when fighting had broken out. The Islamic Courts controlled only 95 per cent of Mogadishu. In total, they controlled four major districts, about 18 per cent of Somalia.
Asked how much strength the warlords still had, he said those warlords who had controlled Mogadishu had been defeated and some of them had left the country. They were no longer a significant force. There was now one group, albeit not a monolithic one, of Islamists, on the one hand, and the Transitional Federal Government in Baidoa, on the other. He could not confirm that Ethiopians had crossed the border, but it was true that Ethiopian troops along the border had been put on alert.
He said the IGAD, Arab League, African Union and even the United Nations had sent a delegation to Mogadishu, where they had spoken to Sheik Sharif, Chairman of the Executive Council of the Islamic Courts. There were indeed concerns about persons who were on the Security Council list of persons with links to Al-Qaida, but it was also true that a genuine dialogue between the TFG and moderate members of the Islamic Courts should be encouraged. It was very encouraging that the two groups already had met in Khartoum and that a further one would take place on 15 July. He encouraged the two parties to enter into genuine dialogue in order to find the best solution to normalize the situation.
Regarding statements by the Islamic Courts that they would reject foreign troops on Somali soil, he said that did not mean it was impossible for a foreign peacekeeping force to go in. If the Council took action on a IGAD African Union peace support force, there would be negotiations with all parties about the best way of deployment. At the same time, the continuation of a dialogue between the Islamic Courts and the Government would be encouraged.
The transitional Federal Government was the result of a long process, Mr. Fall said, in response to a question about the legitimacy of that Government. That process was the result of a decision by the Somalis themselves. The Government had been endorsed by the international community, by IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations. Therefore, the Government had the legitimacy to be the Somali Government today, even if they did not control the entire country.
Asked if, in the United Nations assessment, the United States was on the same page as the United Nations approach at this point, given their past and potentially current history of supporting outside players, he said during the last meeting of the Contact Group, the United States had indicated clearly their position together with the rest of the international community to support the Transitional Federal Institutions.
Answering questions about the partial lifting of the arms embargo, he said a request had been made to the Security Council by the African Union and IGAD to lift the arms embargo to allow for deployment of a peace support mission in Somalia and to allow the Transitional Federal Government to form its own national forces. As for a possible deployment of an African peacekeeping force, the Council had asked for a national security and stabilization plan, which had been submitted. The Council had not yet received a requested detailed mission plan.
The inflow of arms into Somalia and the violations of the arms embargo was a real concern for Somalia and everybody. That was why the Council had been requested to lift the embargo partially to allow the Government to form its own forces and to call upon all neighbouring countries to respect the embargo. He had no information on the United States supplying arms to any group in Somalia.
Asked if the Contact Group on Somalia (United Kingdom, United States, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Republic of Tanzania and representatives from the European Union) was broad enough, Mr. Fall said the Group had met in New York in June and would meet again on 17 July in Brussels. At its first meeting, the Group had agreed to add IGAD and the Arab League as observers.
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