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UN envoy in Somalia urges leaders to chose reconciliation over chaos

26 February 2006 Addressing the opening session of Somalia's parliament today, the top United Nations envoy to the war-torn country called on leaders to choose reconciliation over anarchy, and pledged the international community's full support for the Somali people's efforts to rebuild their nation.

Francois Lonseny Fall praised the courage of Somali leaders to confront their differences and convene the Transitional Federal Parliament for the first time inside the country. “After waiting for so many years, the Somali people have reason to hope that this is the day when they can start to rebuild their nation,” he told the gathering in Baidoa.

Mr. Fall said that the Somali people and the international community expected the nation's leaders to embrace peace and to govern responsibly.

“It hardly needs repeating here today, but the future of your country is in your hands,” he said. “You have arrived at a crossroad and you have a choice that should be easy to make. It should be the easiest choice that you will ever have to make. It is a choice – either to allow anarchy and chaos to prevail in your country – or to lead the Somali people towards reconciliation and reconstruction, peace and prosperity. The Somali people and the international community expect you to make the right choice.”

Mr. Fall said the hopes of the nation were riding on the successful outcome of this first ever session of parliament inside Somalia. “I can assure you that the United Nations and the international community will be with you each step of the way, supporting you and encouraging you,” he said. “But you must lead the way.”

Somalia has been torn by factional fighting ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime 15 years ago. Clashes in the capital earlier this month prompted Mr. Fall to appeal for an end to hostilities and the protection of civilians caught in the crossfire.

Strife is exacerbated by a severe drought which has left nearly 2 million Somalis in need of emergency aid.

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