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SOMALIA: Interim government starts relocation

Nairobi, 13 June 2005 (IRIN) - Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, which has been based in Nairobi since formed eight months ago, began relocating to the country on Monday.

Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said the relocation from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, would be completed in a few days.

"This morning [Monday] the president, the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament will attend a farewell ceremony being held for them by [Kenyan] President [Mwai] Kibaki at State House," Dinari said.

Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was scheduled to depart for Somalia following the ceremony, accompanied by cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and other officials," he said.

His first stop would be in the town of Jowhar, 90 km north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Dinari said Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi and the rest of the Somali government "will follow within the next few days".

Since the TFG was established in October 2004 Nairobi, it had announced plans to relocate to Somalia several times but it did not do so.

While some government officials are installed in Mogadishu, this is the first time the "president is leading the way," a regional analyst, who requested anonymity, said. "It is a positive sign, and they seem serious this time around."

The new government, which includes several faction leaders, did not relocate sooner because of security considerations. It had recently come under increasing pressure from the Kenyan government and western diplomats to relocate.

On 8 June, hotels in Nairobi asked members of the transitional government to vacate the rooms they have occupied for almost three years.

Earlier, the interim government had decided to relocate temporarily to the towns of Jowhar and Baidao, in south-central Somalia. Yusuf and Gedi have said the government could not function in Mogadishu until the city was pacified and secured.

"This government is determined to establish itself in Somalia, with the help of the international community" Dinari said. "There will be no turning back."

At least 100 members of the 275-strong parliament, led by Speaker Sharif Hassan Shaykh Aden, are already in Mogadishu in an attempt to stabilise the city. They have been convincing faction leaders to disarm and encamp their militias.

The first operation to rid Mogadishu of illegal roadblocks manned by armed militia began on 7 June, in an effort to restore order to the war-torn city.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) council of ministers called upon the UN Security Council to lift an arms embargo it had imposed on Somalia.

In a statement, IGAD asked the UN "to expedite the lifting of arms embargo on Somalia to allow for the deployment" of IGAD peacekeeping troops.

Theme (s): Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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