Somali government's exile to end despite warlord threat

By Meera Selva,Africa Correspondent
Friday 11 February 2005 01:00

Somalia's Prime Minister-in-exile, Ali Mohammed Ghedi, has confirmed that he intends to move his government to the capital, Mogadishu, by the end of the month, despite threats from an influential warlord amid continuing violence.

The murder of Kate Peyton, a BBC producer who was shot dead yesterday in Mogadishu, has underlined the continuing instability in Somalia, which is still under the control of warlords. The shooting appeared to be an attempt to scare off international efforts to intervene in the country's future. The African Union (AU) has promised to provide thousands of troops to assist the return of the exiled government, which is based in Kenya after being appointed last year by warring tribes. But a Somali warlord, Osman Ali Ato, has urged Somalis to fight any soldiers from Somalia's long-standing enemy Ethiopia who are deployed as part of an AU force.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mohamud Abdullahi Jama, said: "We cannot allow the forces of darkness to succeed, because more of these incidents could derail our attempt to restore order."

The Prime Minister said this week that his government would start leaving Kenya on 21 February, so long as international donors contributed about $80m (£43m) to help. So far, donors have given $8m and have made it clear that they would like the government to return to Mogadishu before more funds are released. A government delegation that had gone to Mogadishu to pave the way for the eventual relocation of the entire delegation was staying in the Sahafi hotel, where Ms Peyton was shot by unidentified gunmen.

Somalia has already had 13 failed peace processes since the military dictator Mohammed Said Barre was ousted in 1991, and the new government represents the country's 14th attempt. But some tribal chiefs are already openly hostile.

One tribal chief in Mogadishu said: "All these people in Kenya that want to be our government, they are the ones who started the war in the first place. We elders know how to make peace - by sitting under a tree and asking all sides to compromise. These other people will only be peaceful with someone who has more guns than them."

The Kenyan government, exasperated by the violence on its borders, is determined to force Somalia's various clans to work together to establish the new administration in Mogadishu.

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