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11/26/04 - PROGRESS IN SOMALIA  - 2004-11-29

The United Nations Security Council has issued a statement welcoming the return of a functioning government in Somalia. Following the overthrow of a brutal dictatorship in 1991, Somalia fell into chaos. Warlords and clan leaders began to rule various areas of the country. Since then, fighting between rival groups has caused thousands of deaths and intense suffering for the Somali people.

Efforts to reconcile the various warring clans in Somalia and form a new central government have been led by Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union Since August, this reconciliation process has resulted in the establishment of a Transitional Federal Assembly in Somalia and a speaker, president, and prime minister. Announcement of a cabinet is expected soon.

U.S. Ambassador to the U-N John Danforth is the current president of the U-N Security Council. He says the U.S. and the U-N welcome the progress made so far:

"The Security Council stresses that it is the responsibility of all Somali parties to work together to consolidate the gains made so far and to achieve further progress. The Council calls upon them to seize this historic opportunity for peace in Somalia by developing a program of action and timetable for the transitional period creating a favorable environment for long-term stability in making determined efforts to rebuild the country."

In October, Somalia's Transitional Federal Assembly chose Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed as interim president. Mr. Yusuf is asking the U-N for help in his effort to persuade Somali warlords to recognize the new federal government:

"We request the international community to assist us in making sure that these leaders abide by their commitments and national obligations. We have succeeded in bringing about a political settlement, and we are in the process of establishing the basic institutions. However, the most difficult challenges [lie] ahead."

It is now the challenge of Somalia's transitional federal government to continue the reconciliation process by reaching out to the wider Somali community and establishing an effective government operating inside Somalia.