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UN Envoy Calls On World To Stay Out Of Somalia
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New York, United Nations, August 17, 2006 – The international community should refrain from interfering in Somalia and maintain a United Nations arms embargo, the United Nation's envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, told the UN Security Council.

In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, Fall also urged the 15-member council to pressure Somalia's Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) and the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS) to avoid provocations in the war-torn country, according to the UN news service, which provided no direct quotes.

After the meeting, the UN diplomat said he was disappointed that the second round of dialogue scheduled for later this month between the SICS and the TFIs had been postponed.

Fall said SICS leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had told him that negotiations with the TFIs could not continue while Ethiopian troops remained in Somalia.

Fall, according to the UN news service, called on the Security Council to urge all nations to stay out of Somalia's internal affairs and to maintain the UN arms embargo on the region in order to limit bloodshed.

Asked if he could confirm that Ethiopian troops were in Somalia -- which both the Somali government and Addis Ababa have denied -- Fall said he lacked any monitoring capacity to make a determination.

The TFIs, based in Baidoa, and the SICS held their first round of talks in June in Khartoum, following the Islamic militias' successful campaign to drive warlords out of Mogadishu.

However, the powerful Somali Islamic militia on Wednesday told more than a dozen warlords that all was forgiven and urged them to return to Mogadishu and help oppose the deployment of Ethiopian troops.

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 ousting of strongman Mohamed Siyad Barre plunged the country into chaos with rival warlords competing for territory.

The Islamists have moved to fill the power vacuum, raising concerns of a Taliban-style takeover of Somalia and challenging the Baidoa-based government, the latest of 14 internationally backed attempts to restore stability.

As the courts consolidate their power, they have also introduced increasingly strict Sharia law, banning makeshift cinemas and other facilities deemed un-Islamic.

Ethiopia's intervention is widely seen as a move to stem growing Islamic influence that might ignite unrest in its south-eastern Ogaden region that is dominated by ethnic Somalis, and who have been fighting for independence.

Ties between Somalia and Ethiopia has been frosty since they fought in 1964 and again in 1977 to 78 over the ownership of the Ogaden region.

Source: AFP

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