Somali government set to return home

East African countries have called on the United Nations to lift an arms embargo on Somalia to enable African peacekeepers to deploy in the country as its new government prepares to return home.

    The Somali government is set to return to Mogadishu

    Somalia's new government is scheduled to begin returning home on Monday after a nine-month delay.


    Its parliament swore in several ministers and held its last parliamentary session in Kenya on Sunday.


    But without foreign peacekeepers, the government of President Abdullahi Yusuf fears militia rule in Somalia will prevent ministers and their teams from carrying out their work in safety, free from violence, corruption and extortion.


    Ministers from the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a conflict resolution body, said African Union (AU) troops were ready to deploy but had been stopped by lack of funds and the UN arms embargo.


    Troop deployment


    "Troops from both Sudan and Uganda are ready to deploy as soon as funds are available and the UN arms embargo for the contingent is lifted," the IGAD ministers said in a statement.


    "The ministers called upon the United Nations to expedite the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia to allow for deployment of [African peacekeepers] in Somalia."


    The ministers said they would deal decisively with "spoilers" and threatened to refer them to the International Criminal Court.


    Yusuf (L) led Somalia's last
    parliamentary session in Kenya 

    Earlier, Yusuf and nearly 140 legislators who support him attended Somalia's last parliamentary session in Nairobi.


    The session also swore in a new information minister and several junior ministers.


    Officials said parliament took a break and would reopen after two months in Somalia, which has been without a central government for the past 14 years.


    Plans postponed


    Citing the lack of security, the fledgling government has repeatedly postponed plans to return to Somalia, which remains a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by rival factions.


    Last week, armed men re-manned Mogadishu roadblocks that had been dismantled to try to prove the Somali capital was safe enough to be home to the government.


    "I am pleased to note that the transitional federal president of the republic of Somalia and his government ... have finalised plans to relocate and are now ready to go back home," said Kenyan minister John Koech.


    "I wish to observe that [the president] has great challenges facing him there. The security situation in the country still remains fluid."


    Growing pressure


    The Somali government has been under pressure from diplomats and Kenya to relocate quickly to Somalia.


    But a row over whether it should be installed in Mogadishu, Jowhar or Baidoa has caused a major split in the government, further contributing to the delayed return.


    Yusuf's spokesman Yusuf Baribari said government departments would relocate to all three towns.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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