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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:43, April 19, 2007
New date set for Somali reconciliation conference
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The transitional government of Somalia said Wednesday the delayed national reconciliation conference seen as critical to the nation will be held on June 14.

Addressing a news conference in Nairobi, Somalia's Ambassador to Kenya Ali Mohammed Nur said the talks, which was earlier planned for April 16, was delayed due to security concerns.

"The National Congress which shall be followed by a series of reconciliation conferences at regional and district levels, is expected to reflect on our efforts at achieving genuine reconciliation and lasting peace in our country as well as the revival and restoration of Somalia's fine international image and preservation of our sovereignty," Nur told journalists in Nairobi.

The talks were intended to reconcile faction leaders, clan leaders and politicians and pave a way forward for Somalia.

The ambassador's comments came as fresh clashes between Ethiopian troops and insurgents left seven people dead and more than 50 injured in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan reportedly said tension is high but the ceasefire agreement still holds. The cabinet is meeting to discuss security and may approve the sacking of ministers opposed to the government.

Nur said security has been enhanced in the bullet-infested Mogadishu with the deployment of thousands of soldiers to stabilize the capital.

"The government has enhanced the recruitment and deployment of over 8,000 locally trained security forces in Mogadishu, not to mention the presence of the Ugandan peacekeeping forces in the country," Nur said.

He said the security forces have taken over 16 police stations in order to restore law and order in Mogadishu, which has been under heavy shelling since last week between Ethiopian troops and Somali insurgents.

"As a result of the intensified security operations, the forces have arrested several clan militias and insurgents; on the other hand the government officials initiated talks with clan elders and so far had progress towards peace in Mogadishu," Nur said.

The UN refugee agency says hundreds of residents have been killed and some 200,000 others have fled Mogadishu as government and Ethiopian soldiers battle insurgents.

Heavy shelling and mortars landed on residential areas in the south of Mogadishu on Tuesday night as Ethiopian-backed government forces battled militants.

Hawiye clan elders and commanders from Ethiopian forces agreed on a tentative ceasefire earlier this month.

Somalia needs around 42.2 million dollars to organize the reconciliation conference, but some potential donors have made aid conditional on moderate Islamists also being invited.

Source: Xinhua

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