Thursday, March 15, 2007

Transitional government moves to Mogadishu

A news broadcast from South Africa records the move of the Transitional Federal Government from its temporary quarters in Baidoa to Mogadishu, assisted by elements of the Ethiopian army.

News 24 (South Africa)
March 13, 2007

Mogadishu (Somalia) - Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf moved to violence-wracked Mogadishu on Tuesday, a day after parliament voted to relocate the government from Baidoa to the capital, an official said.

"The president's office will be fully operational in Mogadishu from today and all other ministers and government officials will follow suit," deputy defence minister Salad Ali Jelle said. "Every minister will set up his offices in the capital," he added.

The president immediately left the airport, the base of about 1,200 freshly-arrived African Union troops from Uganda, and the target of recent mortar attacks. "From what you see on the ground, Ethiopian and Somali troops are at every junction so the president can safely get to Villa Somalia (the presidential residence)," Jelle said. The Somali interim government on Monday overwhelmingly voted to relocate from the provincial town of Baidoa to Mogadishu, where insurgents have stepped up guerrilla-style attacks in recent weeks, killing dozens of civilians.

But the move is pegged on the government's ability to restore stability there. The government on Sunday announced a massive security drive to pacify Mogadishu within a month using its newly trained forces as well as Ethiopian and [African Union] troops. "Thanks to the improved security in Mogadishu that will allow the government to operate from here," Jelle said. So far, attacks have continued, with Mogadishu residents on Monday reporting at least one dead and five injured after a gun battle sparked by an insurgent attack on Ethiopian forces.

The incident was the latest in a string of attacks since January when joint Ethiopian-Somali forces ousted a powerful Islamist movement from the country's southern and central regions. The six-month AU mission aims to deploy about 8,000 troops to enable Ethiopian forces to leave and Somali forces to take over security. It is the first international peacekeeping venture in Somalia since an ill-fated UN-backed, US-led peace mission launched in the early 1990s. Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

No comments: