In what could be an important, albeit uncertain, step toward peace in one of the world’s most tumultuous regions, the Somali government and the major insurgent group opposing it have agreed to a tentative cease-fire. All parties in the conflict, which has raged with ruinous consequences for more than two years, should seize the opportunity now to settle their differences rather than continue the bloodshed.
The accord, brokered by a United Nations envoy in talks among the parties held in Djibouti, calls for an end to all military action within thirty days and deployment of U.N. peacekeepers within one-hundred-twenty days. Thousands of Ethiopian troops aiding the Somali government oppose the insurgents would be required to withdraw once the U.N. forces arrive.
The Somali prime minister and the leader of the main opposition umbrella group, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, signed the agreement in a ceremony witnessed by representatives of several international organizations. Some dissident Islamist leaders and influential clan leaders joined in the talks, but others in the movement to create an Islamist Somali state balked, saying the U.N. mediation was biased.
Somalia has been wracked by upheaval for more than seventeen years. In the last two years alone, a million people have been uprooted and six-thousand-five-hundred people killed. As one of the witnesses to the accord, the United States calls on all parties to abide by its provisions and support its implementation to help bring this tragic situation to an end.