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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-320855 Somalia / Politics (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=12/2/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENCE REPORT

TITLE=SOMALIA/POLITICS (L-ONLY)

NUMBER=2-320855

BYLINE=RAYMOND THIBODEAUX

DATELINE=NAIROBI, KENYA

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Somali Government's Next Stop: Mogadishu

INTRO: Now that Somalia's newly appointed prime minister has selected a cabinet to run the country, the next big task for him is to move the government from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. VOA's Raymond Thibodeaux files this report from Nairobi.

TEXT: In a major step towards restoring government in Somalia after nearly 14 years of lawlessness, the country's interim prime minister, Ali Muhammad Gedi, swore in 27 members of his new cabinet.

Mr. Gedi says the first task of the new government, which is made up of warlords and clan leaders, is to move from Kenya to Mogadishu.

/// GEDI ACT ///

"The next step following the completion of the formation of the government will be to press our service to move inside and relocate our service in Somalia as soon as possible."

/// END ACT ///

In Somalia, meanwhile, fighting broke out Thursday between two rival clans in the northwestern region near the Ethiopian border. At least 30 people were reported killed and more than 70 wounded, including children, as heavily armed fighters clashed over long-standing land disputes.

Fighting among clans or ethnic groups is not new to Somalia, where clan leaders and warlords, not a legitimate government, have been enforcing law and order over more than a decade.

Winston Tubman, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, says that is one reason why the prime minister picked his cabinet from among regional and clan leaders.

/// TUBMAN ACT ONE ///

"I think they were chosen because of their strength in Mogadishu. A lot of them are from there and the president himself is not from there. These people are warlords or faction leaders with their militias, so by giving them positions in the government he is able to be on better terms with them. But over time when the elections take place the warlords can organize themselves as politicians and contest for power. But to start off, he needs them on board so that they don't confront him militarily."

/// END ACT ///

Somali President Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf, who appointed Mr. Gedi as prime minister, was elected in October by the country's interim parliament. The assembly includes 275 delegates from Somalia's clans, sub-clans and militia groups.

Mr. Tubman predicts that President Yusuf and his government could be in Mogadishu by early next year.

///TUBMAN ACT 2 ///

He (Yusuf) could probably go back to the country in January, I would think. It would also require that the international community didn't take a wait and see attitude but encouraged him as he moves forward.

/// END ACT ///

To help make that happen, President Yusuf has called on the African Union and Western countries to send at least 15-thousand peacekeepers to Somalia to help disarm tens of thousands of Somali militiamen operating inside the country since its government collapsed in 1991.

(Signed)

NEB/RT/MAR/FC



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