Somalia: December 6, 2002


Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) and five Mogadishu-based factions signed a joint ceasefire declaration on 3 December, committing themselves to ending violence in the Somali capital. Somali faction leaders had been appealing to the international community at the end of November to speed up the Eldoret peace process and help Somalia establish a government, in a bid to fight terrorism.

The breakthrough came as the Somali peace talks, underway in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, entered a crucial second phase which could lead to an all-inclusive government. Somalia has become a breeding ground for terrorists, who operate through its shore-line (the longest in Africa) to attack other countries. The two SA-7 "Grail" man portable air defense systems used in the recent attack against an Israeli airliner in Kenya are suspected of originating from a source in Somalia.

All parties agreed "to cease all kinds of hostilities now and in the future" and also committed themselves to "fighting bandits and armed militias who have been killing and abducting innocent people". They agreed to resolve existing political differences "through dialogue and goodwill". The TNG's police and the newly-allied militias would mount joint patrols to rid Mogadishu of the menace of bandits and freelance militias. 

So the Somali chieftains have seen the handwriting on the wall and, fearing a United States "bug hunt" for terrorists in their backyards, are scrambling to get rid any evidence of terrorists. This is also an ideal time and excuse to reload their stocks of arms and munitions. - Adam Geibel

Somalia has been without a government since 1991 and has descended into banditry and anarchy. Business and trade are expensive and often absent. Thus starvation is still common and the free ranging gunmen often keep the foreign aid groups out of particularly unruly areas. It's gotten so bad that even some of the warlords have found there's little worth stealing any more.


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