Speaking on Saturday before the UN General Assembly, Somali President Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed said the embargo, in force since 1992, also prevented the deployment of a peace mission to protect the country's transitional government.

   

"The embargo directly undermines the government's inherent right and genuine effort of forming its national security force that would protect the public and keep peace by enforcing law and order throughout Somalia," Ahmed said.

   

"The Security Council must assist the efforts of the Transitional Federal Government in the stabilisation of the country, by reviewing the merits of the arms embargo on Somalia and promptly lifting it," he added.

   

In July, the UN Security Council refused to ease the embargo, but said it would reconsider the ban after a report from East African nations that want to field peacekeepers.

   

African Union request

 

"The Security Council must assist the efforts of the Transitional Federal Government in the stabilisation of the country"

Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed,
Somalia president

The African Union has requested an exemption from the embargo so it can bring arms into the Horn of Africa nation for a peacekeeping force.

 

The estimated 10,000 troops would come from seven East African nations and also protect Somalia's transitional government.

   

Despite the arms ban, weapons flow freely past Somalia's lawless borders. Pistols and rocket launchers are sold openly in the capital Mogadishu.

   

The transitional government was formed at peace talks in Kenya last year but a rift developed immediately among the new leaders over where to base the seat of government.

   

It is the 14th attempt to restore a central authority since warlords ousted military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and ushered in an era of anarchy that US troops and UN peacekeepers were unable to stop.