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SALAT FAILS TO RESTORE PEACE IN SOMALIA

 

Mogadishu(AFP) 2nd September 2001

A year after the arrival in Mogadishu of Abdulkassim Salat Hassan as head of Somalia's newly-established Interim Government, the Horn of Africa Nation remains as anarchic as ever .

Factional violence and leadership feuds, the scourge of Mogadishu since the toppling in 1991 of the regime of dictator Siad Barre, are now begining to rear their heads in the relatively peaceful self-declared autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

Somalia has been ravaged not only by violence but also by famine and the total collapse of central state infrastructure since Barre's departure. Salat's transitional Government was set up with the approval of the International community following talks hosted by Djibouti last year .

While the new regime enjoys backing from the International community, it has yet to gain more than a toe-hold in Somalia itself, where most warlords and the two regions in the north reject its authority. In some parts of central and southern Somalia ,militias who often shift alliances, currently back the TNG in exchange for logistical support, but without any tangible contribution to peace, experts say .

Worlords, who for a decade failed to agree on anything and whose warfare destroyed the Country, have now ganged up united in opposition to the TNG.

They met in Adis-Ababa in March and launched a common front, the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC),bent on TNG's destruction by setting up what they term a more (representative) Government.

The Police force, itself drawn from Mogadishu's numerous clan militias , cannot venture into areas controlled by warlords opposed to the TNG, including the south central regions of Bay and Bakol, where TNG and SRRC forces fought in July , leaving 200 people dead and hundred wounded .

Few expatriate aid workers are permanently stationed in Somalia since the kidnapping in March 2001 of two UN staff by gunmen, who freed them in Mogadishu after a week in captivity. Even the business community in Mogadishu, believed to be solidly behind the TNG, has yet to give up its arsenal of arms .

Troubles, too, are brewing in Somaliland and Puntland . In Puntland, the struggle has been between Col. Abdullahi Yusuf and Mr. Yusuf Hagi Nur, the regions,s former High Court Chairman, sacked by Abdullahi Yusuf in June, over the illegal extention of the President,s term and that of Parliament . In Somaliland, Egal has also been in a power struggle with clan elders opposed to his rule .

He recently detained the elders,resulting in big demonstrations demanding their release and counter-demonstrations calling for their prosecution early this week.

The TNG's outspoken Prime Minister Ali Khalif summed up on Thursday that unrest in both Puntland and Somaliland was an indication that the people in both regions were against dictatorship and wanted to see a United Somalia.


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