Somali leaders to meet, discuss stability

March 13, 2008 at 11:38 PM
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MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 13 (UPI) -- The Transitional Federal Government in Somalia says it has agreed to hold talks with opposition leaders after years of violence have ravaged the country.

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and Speaker Sheikh Hassan Madobe announced their commitment to hold talks. The United Nations envoy to Somalia, who has reported an escalation in violence in the country and increased difficulty in providing humanitarian aid, is welcoming the development, the U.N. reported.

"Their brothers in the opposition, civil society organizations and the diaspora have repeatedly expressed to me the same desire to join the discussion for peace and reconciliation," U.N. Secretary-General Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in a statement.

"I have no doubt that all Somalis and their concerned friends, governments and organizations will support this move and that everyone would refrain from any action that might hinder these important steps."

Officials say Ould-Abdallah will take a leadership role in the discussion and aid in the proceedings.

Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since 1991. U.N. officials estimate that three million people have been forces to flee the country as refugees as a result of the violence.

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