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9/4/04 - TOWARD A GOVERNMENT IN SOMALIA  - 2004-09-07

A parliament has been sworn in, in Somalia. Under an agreement negotiated in Kenya, each of Somalia’s four major clans has sixty-one seats in the two-hundred-seventy-five member Transitional Federal Assembly. The remaining seats go to smaller factions.

The members of Somalia’s new Assembly will serve five-year terms. During that time, they will choose a president, prime minister, and other government officials. National elections will follow. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a statement saying, “This is an important step toward the re-establishment of stability and effective, inclusive governance in Somalia.”

Somalia has been without an effective national government since 1991, when General Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in a coup that plunged the country into chaos. Since then, various Somali factions have sought to control the country. The absence of a central government, regional fighting, and profiteering have had a disastrous effect on the Somali economy

Ahmed Hashi, Somalia’s ambassador to the United Nations, says that people in Somalia will accept the Transitional Federal Assembly:

“The people of Somalia are fed up with the war. They are fed up with the lawlessness. The ordinary people of Somalia yearn for a government of national unity, for peace and stability in the country.”

State Department spokesman Boucher says the U.S. is calling “on all Somali participants to continue their efforts towards the reestablishment of effective governance in Somalia with sustained commitment, honesty, and goodwill.”