Somalia rivals sign peace accord

Rival Somali leaders on Thursday reached an agreement to end fighting in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country following Arab League sponsored talks in Khartoum, officials said.

The agreement was signed after a delegation from the Islamic alliance, which ousted United States-backed warlords from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on June 5 after four months of fighting, went into talks with members of the transitional government.

The agreement recognises “the legality of the transitional government and the presence of the alliance of Islamic tribunals”, Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa told reporters after heading talks between the two sides.

The text calls for an “end to media and military campaigns ... the pursuit of dialogue without preconditions in the framework of mutual recognition” and “the judgment of war criminals”, Mussa said.

It was signed by a prominent scholar representing the Islamic courts, Ali Mohammed Ibrahim, and Somali Foreign Minister Abdullah al-Sheikh Ismail.

The meeting came after both sides held separate consultations with Arab officials—including Mussa—as well as Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who holds the rotating chair of the pan-Arab body.

Al-Beshir described the accord as “the beginning of the end of conflicts in Somalia”.

The parties are to resume talks aimed at resolving outstanding security disputes on July 15 in Khartoum.

The Khartoum talks were the first mediation effort in the conflict that flared up and left about 360 people dead and 2 000 wounded in recent weeks.

Somalia’s embattled transitional government sent a team, including President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi and Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan.

The Joint Islamic Courts militia, which has seized control of much of southern Somalia, has vowed to re-establish order and begun imposing Sharia Islamic law in the areas it controls.

Somalia’s transitional authority is based in Baidoa, west of Mogadishu, for fear of attacks in the capital and has little control over the country. It suspects the Islamists of trying to overrun the whole of Somalia.

Previous dialogue attempts between the two sides had failed.
The Somali president said on Tuesday he would not talk to the Islamists until they recognised his government and gave up all the territories they had seized.—AFP

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