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Prominent Somali Warlord Urges Unity Government

A prominent Somali warlord called Thursday for the formation of a national unity government to bring peace to war-torn Somalia.

Militia leader Hussein Aideed told Reuters his Somali National Alliance "is committed to work for reconciliation and peace in Somalia, especially to bring everybody on board so as to form a government of national unity."

Aideed and three other Somali warlords have been holding talks with Yemeni officials in Sanaa as part of a bid by the Arab state to help peace efforts in Somalia. Aideed said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was making "intensive efforts" to close the gap between the main opposition Somali faction leaders and Somalia's newly elected President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan.

The warlords have been expected also to hold talks with representatives of President Abdiqassim Salad, but there have been no reports of the president's men arriving in Yemen.

Abdiqassem Salad, elected last weekend by Somalia's new parliament which is based in neighboring Djibouti, returned to the Somali capital Mogadishu Wednesday and was greeted by more than 100,000 cheering residents.

Somalia has been without a central government since 1991, when former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted and the African country dissolved into civil war and anarchy, with clan-based factions carving out rival fiefdoms.

The militia leaders say the new Somali parliament is not legitimate because it includes too many former officials of the Siad Barre era. Abdiqassim Salad served as deputy prime minister and interior minister under Siad Barre.


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