UN delegation kicks off Africa tour with Somali peace talks

June 2nd, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, June 2 (DPA) A delegation from the United Nations Security Council was Monday due to attend ongoing peace talks in Djibouti aimed at ending the conflict that has brought chaos to Somalia. The delegation arranged to meet Somali government and opposition officials in neighbouring Djibouti as Somalia was deemed too unsafe for the meeting.

Somalia President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed survived an assassination attempt as he travelled to Djibouti Sunday, when Islamic insurgents fired mortars at his plane in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

UN officials are optimistic that progress can be made despite constant insurgent attacks that have forced many people to fleeMogadishu.

They also hope to be able to implement a resolution to send UN peacekeepers into Somalia to replace an undermanned African Union force.

“On Somalia, what we hope to be doing is take the resolution up to another level, and I believe it’s possible,” South Africa’sAmbassador to the UN Dumisani Kumalo, who is co-chairing the delegation, told reporters in New York Saturday.

However, the Islamic insurgents who are battling the transitional government in Somalia were not attending the talks and anotheropposition official said the meeting was “part of a clear, ongoing conspiracy” against Somalia.

The Islamic insurgents are demanding that Ethiopian troops leave Somalia completely before any kind of peace can be achieved.

Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. It has been without an effective central authority, leading to constant inter-clan clashes.

The Union of Islamic Courts controlled Mogadishu for around six months in 2006 before being driven out by government and Ethiopian troops, sparking an insurgency that aid agencies say has cost the lives of over 6,000 civilians.

Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes to escape being caught up in the crossfire of daily firefights.

The militant group al-Shabaab, the armed wing of the Union of Islamic Courts, recently vowed to step up attacks on foreign troops and civilians after a US airstrike killed its leader, Aden Hashi Ayro.

Monday’s meeting is part of ten-day tour that will see the UN delegation visit Sudan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and the Ivory Coast.

Sudan is particularly tense and many fear the outbreak of another civil war as the North and South clash over the oil-rich Abyei region, which sits in disputed land in the middle of the nation.

Sudan has also broken off diplomatic relations with Chad, accusing it of backing rebels from the troubled western Sudanese province of Darfur.

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