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UPDATED: 15:30, March 19, 2007
3,000 delegates to attend Somalia's National Reconciliation Congress
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The proposal for the national reconciliation congress in Somalia's capital Mogadishu will attract at least 3,000 delegates from all parts of Somalia and also the Somali diaspora communities, according to reports from Mogadishu on Monday.

April 16 is planned as opening ceremony of the congress in Mogadishu, for which preparations are being made since the onset of March, the reports quoted Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi as saying.

The reports said Ghedi's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will not reverse its plans to return to Mogadishu, despite the mortar attack in the capital a few days ago.

Violence has escalated in Mogadishu over the last two months since the Ethiopian-backed government forces defeated the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) late last year. The interim government blames the violence on the massive number of weapons available in Mogadishu and has announced plans to forcefully disarm residents.

The reports quoted Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle as saying that 4,000 newly trained soldiers will be involved in the exercise and are expected to pacify the city within 30 days.

Some 1,700 Ugandan soldiers have arrived in Somalia as part of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force. The AU plans an 8,000- strong force for Somalia but has only raised half of the required number of troops.

Source: Xinhua

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