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Somali accord with Islamists gives peace new impetus – UN official

20 November 2008The recent agreement on political cooperation signed between the Somali Government and an Islamic opposition alliance has given the peace process in the strife-torn country renewed impetus, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today. The recent agreement on political cooperation signed between the Somali Government and an Islamic opposition alliance has given the peace process in the strife-torn country renewed impetus, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.But Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios warned that the continuing tensions between the country’s president and prime minister left the situation volatile in a country that has been riven by factional fighting and has not had a functioning central government since 1991.The Council voted unanimously to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets of individuals designated as engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Somalia.Last month the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed two accords in neighbouring Djibouti on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict, the establishment of a unity government and military forces, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who have been backing the TFG.The Council discussed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the Horn of Africa country and received an update on the surge in acts of piracy off Somalia’s coast.In the report Mr. Ban said the deteriorating security situation posed a serious threat to the delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of desperate people.The Director of the Africa Division in the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Raisuddin Zenenga, told the 15-member body that the approach pursued by Member States to combat piracy sets an example of what is required to tackle the real source of the security challenges in Somalia.He said the UN appealed to Member States to deploy a multinational force to stabilize Mogadishu, the capital, and prepare the ground for a UN peacekeeping operation to be deployed.UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropolous briefed the Council on the more than 120 attacks of piracy and armed robbery reported off the coast of Somalia this year alone, expressing concern at both their frequency and their ferocity.He called on Council members to help craft a swift and coordinated international response and urged individual Member States to set up an effective legal jurisdiction so that offenders can be brought to justice.After an open debate, Council members went into consultations on Somalia, and in a subsequent press statement – read out by Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, which holds the Council presidency this month – voiced concern about the number of piracy incidents.Mr. Urbina said all parties in Somalia must fully implement the Djibouti accords and he also stressed that those groups which are not yet parties to the agreements should join “as a matter of urgency.”The Council also said that progress on an inclusive political process for Somalia was essential to improving the security and humanitarian situation.“They expressed their concern about the worsening security and humanitarian situation, and the fragility of the political process, and reiterated their commitment to consider feasible next steps,” the press statement noted.

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