Somali prime minister calls on insurgents to join peace talksSeptember 25th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS
Mogadishu, Sep 25 (Xinhua) Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein Thursday called on the insurgent groups which have not been part of the peace talks to join in the national reconciliation process and help restore peace in the country.”It is never late for them to join because our doors are open for every one interested in peace and dialogue,” Hussein told reporters at his residence in Mogadishu shortly after returning from Djibouti, where he led a government delegation to the talks with the opposition, the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia.
A number of insurgent groups have boycotted the peace talks between the transitional government and a major faction of the opposition that has controlled much of southern and central Somalia before their ouster by Somali government troops backed by their Ethiopian allies in December 2006.
The prime minister condemned the shelling in the past three day of Mogadishu airport by the Al-Shabaab insurgent fighters, who last week threatened to shoot down any plane that lands at the airport which they claimed is being used for military purposes.
He called on local airline companies to restart using the airport which he said was serving the public. No commercial plane has landed at the airport since the threat was issued last week.
Nearly a hundred civilians have been killed and more than two hundreds others wounded in three days of shelling in the southern neighbourhoods of the Somali capital.
The Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab has been attacking the bases of African Union peacekeepers including the airport with mortars, rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine gun fire.
The Ugandan contingent of the 2,600 African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia (AMISOM), for their part, responded with heavy artillery shells that mostly landed in residential areas where thousands of residents have fled their homes to the outskirts of the city to join the hundreds of thousands of displaced people already living there in squalid conditions in makeshift camps.
The Somali prime minister said that progress was made at the peace talks in Djibouti on certain issues while others, including the ceasefire, remained outstanding.
“Since implementation of the ceasefire agreement required a lot of technicalities and it was something we should not be hasty about we decided to meet on it in a month,” Hussein said.
Almost daily battles have blighted the Horn of Africa nation since Ethiopian troops invaded in 2006 to kick out the Islamist regime and put the transitional federal government back in power.
Islamist insurgents have since fought back, taking over the key port town of Kismayo and hammering Ethiopian, government and AU peacekeeping troops.
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