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Senior UN envoy to Somalia welcomes Government’s pledge for renewed peace talks

Senior UN envoy to Somalia welcomes Government’s pledge for renewed peace talks

Special Representative François Lonsény Fall
The United Nations envoy to Somalia said today that the troubled country’s transitional Government has promised to resume dialogue with the leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts after the third round of peace talks was postponed earlier this month.

François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said in a press release from Nairobi that President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi gave him their assurances during meetings yesterday in Baidoa, where the Government is based.

“They also told me they would welcome the Speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, back in Baidoa in spite of his recent initiative to visit Mogadishu [the capital] for discussions with the Courts, without their agreement or that of the Transitional Federal Parliament,” he said.

Mr. Fall told the Security Council earlier this month that the third round of peace talks between the warring parties, scheduled to be held on 30 October but postponed after disputes over preconditions, is now slated for mid-December.

The talks are designed to discuss security and power sharing in the impoverished and drought-stricken nation, which has been wracked by factional fighting and has had no functioning national government since President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991. The Union of Islamic Courts now controls Mogadishu.

Saying he was encouraged by yesterday’s meetings, Mr. Fall added that he was accompanied by members of the International Advisory Contact Group for Somalia, established earlier this year to assist the peace process.

The envoy also addressed the Somali Parliament in Baidoa, urging members to resume peace negotiations as soon as possible and telling them that the strength of the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions depended on their unity.