Saturday, June 17, 2006
NAIROBI, 14 June (IRIN) - East African states have agreed to isolate leaders of armed factions in Somalia by imposing a regional travel ban on them and freezing their assets in a bid to help the nation's fledgling transitional federal government restore stability.
Kenya took the lead last week, imposing sanctions against Somalia's so-called "warlords" after they and their militia were driven out of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, by forces loyal to the city's Islamic courts. The faction leaders were accused of being the main stumbling block in efforts to re-establish a government in Somalia, where anarchy has reigned since the overthrow in 1991 of the administration led by Muhammad Siyad Barre.
Member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Tuesday pledged to follow Kenya's lead. "The IGAD member states will apply the same sanctions against all warlords as has been applied by Kenya, including a travel ban and freezing of accounts, except for the passage which may be extended to those warlords who will have surrendered and subjected themselves to dialogue with the TFG [Transitional Federal Government]," the IGAD council of ministers said in a joint statement at the end of a meeting in the Kenya capital, Nairobi. IGAD is made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
Kenya had hosted and played a key mediation role during lengthy reconciliation talks between Somalia's numerous factions, which culminated in the formation of the TFG in 2004. However internal divisions and opposition from faction leaders has undermined the establishment of the TFG's authority in Somalia.
The ministers also agreed that IGAD would prepare a list of people involved in the use of illegal arms in Somalia with a view to having them prosecuted through an "international process" for crimes against humanity. While the United Nations should maintain the arms embargo imposed on Somalia in 1992, IGAD's member states said exemptions should be allowed to enable the interim government set up law-enforcement institutions.
During the meeting, Somalia's interim Prime Minister Ali Muhammed Gedi urged the international community to abandon what he described as a "wait and see" attitude on Somalia and help his government install itself in the country. "The developments in Somalia are leading to another catastrophe. The transitional federal institutions are doing their best, but they cannot achieve alone any tangible result without other partners supporting us," Gedi said. "If we sit and wait and see, the issue of the Somali people could be out of control. It will not be limited to Somalia. It will be a regional problem; it will be a global problem."
Gedi appealed to Islamic leaders, who now control Mogadishu, to work with the TFG to restore law and order in Somalia. "We appeal to the Islamic courts to join the efforts of the peace process, but the dialogue should be in line with the Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia, democracy, human rights, free elections and peaceful transition," he said.
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