Somali Premier optimistic about prospects for beleaguered country

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- The future looks bright, at least as perceived by Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galayhd, for Somalia's Transitional Government (TGS), what with renewed hopes for reconciliation following reports that differences between some opposition factions were beginning to thaw.
While factions are busy fighting in the south, blockading the port of Mogadishu - Somalia's lifeline - TGS, under the interim direction of Ali Khalif Galayhd, appears to be gaining support by the day.
On 21 May his Defence minister Abdullahi Boqor Muse formed a defence mobilisation committee to sensitise the public on security matters.
The committee would also be entrusted defence of Somalia's territorial integrity, and would plan and solicit financial resources for the country's armed forces.
The development came a day after the launch of a training programme for 1,000 new police recruits, as the TGS edged further into asserting its authority on country.
TGS has operated without an army or police force since it came into existence seven months ago, making it very delicate and susceptible to attacks from the opposing regions.
The defence mobilisation committee, Muse affirmed, consists of business community members (ostensibly for their financial wherewithal) and officials of the TGS.
"If we do not establish a strong defence force for this nation, then our sovereignty would be in danger," Muse said at the launch of the committee 21 May, adding "the challenge is now before us as defence forces are the bedrock of any state.
" But the fragile TGS has not got the means to sustain an army, let alone a fledging police force that would keep law and order across the entire republic.
Hence Muse turned to the business community "to rise to the occasion and contribute towards support and sustenance of the defence forces in the interest of the nation.
" "All those who serve in the TGS do so on voluntary basis just to re-build our nation," he vouched, explaining that "as you are all aware, the government has not yet started collecting taxes from the public and, besides, it is everybody's duty to defend the nation.
" The support and goodwill received by the TGS has also earned it enemies in the name of die-hard factional leaders, especially from the south.
Since its establishment in Mogadishu, the new government has struggled to assert control over the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and stave off opposition by demobilising thousands of armed militia and deal with rampant inflation.
Although it was received with great enthusiasm in Mogadishu, TGS has faced continued opposition from Mogadishu-based faction leaders, including the newly launched Southern-based Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Committee (SRRC), the self- declared independent state of Somaliland (north-western Somalia) and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.
The opposition leaders reject the Djibouti-hosted Somali peace talks in Arta, which led to the election of the transitional national government in August 2000.
They dismiss it as "illegal" and "unrepresentative" despite its having received international recognition.
On 23 May Mogadishu faction leader Husayn Muhammad Aydid, who is also one of the leaders of the Somali Reconciliation and Reconstruction Council (SRRC), was quoted by Radio Banaadir, monitored from Mogadishu, as thanking Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi for inviting factional leaders to Nairobi for peace talks.
"President Moi has done a lot for the Somali people.
He has invited the SRRC leadership and the other regional administration leaders in order to consult with them on ways of setting up a broad-based national government for Somalia," Aydid acknowledged.
The SRRC were 24-28 May in Nairobi where they discussed peace initiatives in Somalia and how to arrive a lasting solution to the country's fragmentation.
Aydid denied his faction had received arms from Ethiopia, but condemned Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya for financing the Transitional Government of Somali.
That notwithstanding, Prime Minister Galayhd thinks there is light at the end of the tunnel, particularly as "the majority of people in the north-east are very much supportive of the TGS.
" As he puts it, "most Somalis have a great sense of ownership and that is our strength.
" However, he admits the shortcomings, saying the TGS has not been able to engage those who are outside the Arta process in the reconstruction.

04 june 2001 11:10:00

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