Vol.21 No.133

Tuesday 31 August 2004    

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Somalia edges towards democracy


8/31/2004 1:05:52 AM (GMT +2)

Somalia has moved closer to establishing its first central government in more than 15 years. The first step in the process, creating a parliament, came nearer to completion when 64 members were sworn in on Sunday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.


The move means that 258 members of the 275-member assembly are now in place, with the remaining 17 to be appointed later.

The new body is expected to elect a president to be based in Mogadishu. Somalia's central government fell apart in 1991, after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was forced out by warlords. The ensuing fighting between clans led to famine and disease, which resulted in the deaths of up to one million people. After lengthy peace negotiations, rival factions in January agreed in Kenya to sign deal to set up the new parliament. Most of the body's members were sworn in at a ceremony in Kenya last week, but the process suffered a delay when one of the country's four major clans refused to name representatives. On Sunday, the Darod clan named their members. Many Darod inhabit Somalia's autonomous north-eastern region of Puntland. The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says the new parliament is intended as a precursor to an elected authority and, it is hoped, will start to bring an end to an ugly and bloody chapter in Somalia's history.

Somali elders, businessmen and religious leaders attempted to form a transitional national government in 2000. But the body had never managed to control more than a few neighbourhoods in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia. Its mandate expired in August 2003. Somaliland, a breakaway region in the north of Somalia, is not included in the new parliament. (BBC)

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