UN envoy cautions against forced disarmament before Somalia reconciliation congress

4 April 2007
SRSG Lonsény Fall

Welcoming plans to convene a national reconciliation congress for war-ravaged Somalia, the senior United Nations envoy to the country has cautioned against forced disarmament to facilitate holding the meeting in the capital, Mogadishu.

Welcoming plans to convene a national reconciliation congress for war-ravaged Somalia, the senior United Nations envoy to the country has cautioned against forced disarmament to facilitate holding the meeting in the capital, Mogadishu.

Addressing a meeting of the International Contact Group in Cairo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, François Lonsény Fall, said recent fighting in Mogadishu “clearly brings in sharp focus the differences between the views of those who want to carry out forced disarmament to secure the capital and those who believe that genuine reconciliation must precede any form of disarmament.”

He noted plans to establish a National Governance and Reconciliation Committee consisting of six imminent Somali personalities and to convene a congress in Mogadishu in mid-May, but pointed out that the security of the venue remains an issue.

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian forces, dislodged the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from Mogadishu and much of the rest of the country at the end of last year.

“From our contacts, it was clear that the TFG wants to secure the city by disarming the insurgent forces before the convening of the planned National Reconciliation Congress,” Mr. Fall said. “However, the UIC leaders doubt whether genuine reconciliation can be achieved through this Congress. They oppose any forcible disarmament in Mogadishu, and they have stressed the need to have an agreed venue and agenda, and a neutral mediating body for the dialogue.”

The UN welcomes the TFG’s initiative to convene the Congress, which should receive international support, he said. “However, we are concerned about the security of Mogadishu as venue. We believe that providing security through forcible disarmament may not be the best approach may undermine the efforts undertaken by the African Union (AU) to stabilize the country and subsequently affects efforts for a sustainable peace and reconciliation.”

Those who have influence with members of the former UIC should encourage them to “renounce violence and extremism and participate in the planned Congress, or otherwise open a dialogue with the TFG, without preconditions for the sake of national unity and reconciliation,” he said.

The International Contact Group on Somalia includes Italy, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with the AU, European Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, League of Arab States and the UN.

 

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