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May 17, 2009

UN slams extremists’ offensive in Somalia, warns Eritrea

Filed under: News — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 2:18 pm
16 May 2009, 0142 hrs IST, AFP
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Friday condemned a bid by Somalia’s Islamist extremists to oust the government by force and voiced concern about reported Eritrean arms supplies to them. 

The 15-member body unanimously agreed a non-binding statement that “condemns the recent renewal in fighting” by Islamist extremists, “which constitutes an attempt to remove (the) legitimate authority (in Somalia) by force.”

The council also expressed concern “over reports that Eritrea has supplied arms to those opposing the legitimate government of Somalia in breach of the UN (17-year-old) arms embargo” and called on its sanctions monitoring panel to investigate.

Thursday, the United States already accused Eritrea of “fanning the flames of violence” in Somalia and demanded that it halt its support for extremist groups in Mogadishu.

The Council also reaffirmed its support for Somalia’s transitional government as “the legitimate authority” and demanded that “opposition groups immediately end their offensive, put down their arms, renounce violence and join reconciliation efforts.”

“The ongoing attempts to take power by force can only delay the political process and prolong the suffering of the Somali people,” the text added.

It was issued as Mogadishu residents fled Friday as pro-government forces scrambled to contain an insurgent onslaught that has left more than 100 dead over the past week.

The embattled Somali government, entrenched in an ever-shrinking tract of the capital, appointed a new army chief late Thursday after failing to repel the offensive that heightened international concerns over the lawless nation.

The fighting has “so far claimed the lives of more than 135 people,” the UN’s refugee agency said in a statement, adding that it had counted 315 wounded and 30,000 displaced.

Friday’s council statement also urged the international community to help beef up security forces of the Somali transitional government and reiterated the council’s support for the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that is struggling to try to contain the violence in the lawless country.

It expressed concern “at the loss of life and the worsening humanitarian situation arising out of the renewed fighting.”

Forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed resumed clashes with radical forces including members of the Shebab group last week.

Wednesday, UN special envoy for Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah blamed Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys for the renewed violence and accused him of seeking to topple the government.

Aweys and Sharif were two of the Islamist leaders who took over most of Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by an Ethiopian invasion in support of the TFG.

Sharif eventually joined the UN-sponsored reconciliation process in a deal reached in Djibouti last June and was elected Somalia’s president in January, days after Ethiopia completed its military pullout.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government since plunging into civil war with the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre.,prtpage-1.cms


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