Mogadishu ceasefire declaration signed

Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) and five Mogadishu-based factions have signed a joint ceasefire declaration committing themselves to ending violence in the Somali capital.

The breakthrough came on Monday as the Somali peace talks, underway in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, entered a crucial second phase which could lead to an all-inclusive government.

Under the declaration, the sides agreed "to cease all kinds of hostilities now and in the future". They also committed themselves to "fighting bandits and armed militias who have been killing and abducting innocent people". They agreed to resolve existing political differences "through dialogue and goodwill".

Furthermore, the Somali leaders condemned "in the strongest terms possible all forms of terrorism" and expressed shock and sadness over the terrorist acts in Mombasa, Kenya, the declaration said.

A Somali observer in Eldoret told IRIN the accord was significant "if the signatories are sincere and carry it out".

"This deal has the potential to move the Somali peace process significantly forward," he said. "If peace can be achieved in Mogadishu, then peace is possible in Somalia."

A Mogadishu businessman, Muhammad Ahmad, told IRIN that people in the city had received news of the declaration "but are not celebrating yet".

"We have seen too many agreements and none of them has produced any results," he said. "I think we will wait until we see the [TNG's] police and the various militias mounting joint patrols to rid the city of the menace of bandits and freelance militias. Only then will Mogadishu residents celebrate."

Those who signed the declaration included TNG Prime Minister Hasan Abshir Farah, Transitional National Assembly Speaker Abdullah Derow Isak and prominent Mogadishu-based faction leaders such as Husayn Muhammad Aydid, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, Muse Sudi Yalahow, Usman Hasan Ali Ato and Umar Muhammad Finish.