The International Monetary Fund has recognised the government of Somalia, ending a 22-year break in relations that could lead to IMF technical and policy support to the country.

"The International Monetary Fund today recognised the Federal Government of Somalia, headed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, paving the way for the resumption of relations after a 22-year interval," the IMF said in a statement on Friday.

"The decision is consistent with broad international support and recognition of the federal government."

Somalia has been an IMF member since 1962, but relations broke after the civil war of the early 1990s left the country with "no government with which the Fund could deal."

Mohamud's new government, which took office in September 2012, "has since enjoyed considerable support, including from the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and many IMF member countries," the IMF said.

Ineligible for new financing

Somalia, however, still owes some $352 million to the Fund, and so is currently ineligible for any new financing.

The country has been enmeshed in civil conflict and chronic fighting between warlords since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

A transitional government, backed by an African force, is starting to establish itself after major victories against al-Shabab, a violent group with links to al-Qaeda.

Shabab are considered to be on their back foot, having lost a string of key towns in recent months to African Union forces, Somali troops and Ethiopian soldiers.

The UN Security Council last month suspended the arms embargo against Somalia for a year, easing the oldest international weapons blockade to help the government take on Islamist militants.

But Washington believes the group remains a threat to stability in the Horn of Africa and beyond. In 2010, Shabab is believed to have been behind suicide bombings in Uganda, and earlier this year claimed to execute a French hostage.

Source: AFP