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Somalia Asks For Help In Training Security Forces
Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug 28, 2006 – Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi appealed on Monday for foreign aid to train security forces to help his weak government face growing threats from the country's powerful Islamist movement.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the start of training for new police recruits, Gedi warned of continued instability in the lawless Horn of Africa nation without outside assistance to secure his administration.
"We appeal to the international community to join in and help us train police and army," he said at the training ground in Labatanjirow, about 60km east of the temporary government seat of Baidoa.
"Without international help, we cannot do much," Gedi said, referring to huge obstacles faced by his nearly two-year-old government, which has been riddled with infighting and unable to assert control over much of the nation.
"We cannot have peace without adequately trained and equipped police and it is not in our capacity to do that unless assisted by the outside world," he said, thanking the Ugandan government for its help in the programme.
The exercise got under way following the defections of at least 200 government troops to the newly dominant Islamists in recent weeks that have underscored the administration's fragility and sparked concern.
It also came amid new efforts to ease tensions between the transitional government and the Islamists, who have rapidly expanded their territory since seizing the capital of Mogadishu from warlords in June after months of battles.
The two sides have come under mounting pressure to attend a much-delayed second round of Arab League-mediated peace talks in Khartoum, put off numerous times over disputes about the alleged presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia.
Witnesses have reported seeing hundreds of uniformed Ethiopian soldiers crossing into Somalia and taking up positions to protect Gedi's government from feared attacks by the Islamists.
The government and Addis Ababa have repeatedly denied the claims, but the Islamists have said they will not attend the attend the talks in Sudan until and unless the Ethiopian soldiers are withdrawn.
The two sides are also at serious odds over the proposed deployment of a regional East African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, with the government in full support and the Islamists vowing to resist any foreign troops.
Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre plunged the nation of about 10-million into chaos with rival warlords battling for control.