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Kenya Welcomes Election of New Somali President

The Kenyan government Friday welcomed the election of Abdiqasim Salad Hassan as President of Somalia and reiterated its full support for the new president and parliament.

"As a country, we welcome the election of interim Somali President Mr. Hassan," Foreign Minister Bonaya Godana told a press conference here Friday.

But Godana said that viable peace in Somalia can only be achieved through inclusion of faction leaders.

"We urge the warlords and other faction leaders who stay out to show their goodwill and come onboard," said the foreign minister, adding: "We hope the international community will do the same and we are looking forward to seeing a functional government and functional state."

"We are still exacting our own diplomatic pressure and offering advice that the new team should go out of its way to bring in the warlords," he said.

Kenya, which shares a 1,200-kilometer border with the war-torn Somalia, is home to 200,000 Somali refugees. When and whether to repatriate the Somali refugees will be determined by the assessment of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Kenya will fully cooperate with the agency, Godana said.

Somalia plunged into a civil war in 1991 and has had no central government since then. A peace conference aimed at ending Somalia's anarchy has been underway since May 2 in Djibouti.

A central government in Somalia is to be set up in the coming days following the presidential election on August 25.


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