UNled group to hold talks on Somalia amid government turmoil

14 December 2008A United Nations-chaired international group of countries and organizations supporting the consolidation of peace in war-ravaged Somalia has been slated to hold a high-level meeting ahead of a Security Council gathering focusing on the Horn of Africa nation. The International Contact Group (ICG), led by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General”s Special Representative, is expected to condemn a dispute which has flared up between the President and Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is threatening the UN-backed peace process signed by rival factions in recent months.“It is my understanding that the continued dispute within an already weak TFG, as reflected in today”s statements coming from Baidoa, is rejected by the vast majority of Somalis, as well as by the regional organization the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and all members of the international community starting with my Office,” said the Special Representative.United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, is scheduled to join several high-ranking ministers attending parts of the discussion during the day-long meeting at UN Headquarters in New York on 16 December.“We are expecting a large number of participants to attend the Contact Group meeting at a very senior level,” said Mr Ould-Abdallah.Key issues relating to the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia – including political cooperation, human rights, piracy and reconstruction and development – are on the meeting”s agenda, planned shortly before a Security Council meeting which is expected to include piracy on its talking points.“However the international community”s efforts will remain limited unless the Somalis themselves make major efforts to unite and work together towards ending the conflict,” stressed Mr. Ould-Abdallah.“The Somali leadership within the TFG, Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and other groups must know that peace is irreversible. The days of unnecessary confrontation are numbered and can only lead to more violence.”Somalia has been beset by fighting and massive humanitarian suffering for the past two decades but the violence has reignited this year, particularly in and around the capital, Mogadishu, and caused widespread displacement. The Representative led talks that resulted in June”s Djibouti Agreement, under which the TFG and the opposition ARS agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled nation, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991. read more