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Arms embargo must not be lifted, ICG urges

The International Crisis Group has warned that a recent request by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to lift a United Nations arms embargo on Somalia is a "recipe for instability" in the Eastern Africa Nation.

ICG urged members of IGAD to use their influence instead to "promote political dialogue" amongst divided factions of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

IGAD brokered the reconciliation talks that culminated in the establishment of the TFG in 2004. It comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia.

The body had recently called for a lifting of the arms embargo to enable the TFG to establish security institutions and law enforcement agencies in Somalia.

In a letter to heads of IGAD member states, ICG president Gareth Evans urged leaders of the organisation to reconsider their efforts to lift the UN arms embargo.

ICG underscored the importance of the embargo on Somalia for limiting violence and its consequences.

Evans said that the situation in Somalia remained of grave concern. Continued instability, the growing incidence of piracy and the persistent threat of terrorism all required action.

The transitional federal institutions moved to Somalia in June from Kenya, where they were created, but the administration has remained divided over two key issues: the location of Somalia’s seat of government and the deployment of peacekeepers from neighbouring countries.

The president, the prime minister and their supporters pitched camp in Jowhar, 90 km north of Mogadishu, citing insecurity as the reason behind their decision not to work from the capital.

Other MPs, led by speaker Sharif Hassan Shaykh Aden, went to Mogadishu, saying they would attempt to restore stability to the capital, which was largely destroyed during nearly 15 years of factional warfare following the toppling in 1991 of the Muhammad Siyad Barre regime.

"In the absence of functioning national institutions, the wing led by interim President [Abdullahi] Yusuf has sought to monopolise the government at the expense of other groups," said Evans.

"These dynamics are reflected by divisions in the Somali public and failure of the transitional government, more than one year after establishment, to make tangible progress towards fulfilling its responsibilities. Most disturbing is the military build-up on both sides of that body and the threat of renewed violence if the differences are allowed to widen," he added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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