Somali rivals reach ceasefire agreement
The Somali transitional government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia have signed a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending 17 years of conflict in the country.
A statement from the Nairobi-based UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said the deal was signed late on Monday, which calls on the UN to deploy an “international stabilization force” in the troubled country.
The two delegations signed the agreement in neighbouring Djibouti in the presence of representatives of the international community, including UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.
The agreement follows almost ten days of UN-facilitated talks in Djibouti aimed at ending the political strife that has bedevilled Somalia for nearly two decades.
The country has been without a functional government since 1991 and deadly fighting in recent months, particularly in and around capital Mogadishu, has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.
In accordance with the pact, the government and the opposition have agreed to end "all acts of armed confrontation" within 30 days. The initial period of cessation of hostilities is 90 days, and can be renewed.
The United Nations has been asked to authorise and deploy "an international stabilisation force from countries that are friends of Somalia, excluding neighbouring states", within 120 days.
Some 2,600 African Union peacekeeping troops are deployed in Mogadishu to maintain security but have done little to quell the violence which has triggered a humanitarian crisis that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa.
The talks in Djibouti were the latest attempt to negotiate an end to the anarchy in Somalia where more than one million people have been evicted in the fighting.