Somalia gov't, opposition sing deal after soldiers fire on civilians

City residents said nearly 50 people died last Friday when Ethiopian soldiers and government troops opened fire on civilians in retaliation after two roadside bombs ripped through their convoys.

Somalia gov't, opposition sing deal after soldiers fire on civilians
Somalia's government has formally signed a peace deal with some opposition figures, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government and a group of the opposition initialled a tentative peace agreement on June 9 at U.N.-led talks in Djibouti, and then formally signed it late on Monday.

"The parties agreed to continue the political dialogue between themselves and refrain from making inflammatory statements," the United Nations said in a statement.

More than 8,000 civilians have been killed and 1 million uprooted in fighting since early last year pitting President Abdullahi Yusuf's interim administration and allied Ethiopian forces against Islamists.

The Djibouti Agreement seeks the replacement of Ethiopian troops supporting the transitional government with U.N. peacekeepers, ill-funded African Union force.

But disagreement over the discussions split the Eritrea-based opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) in two, with exiles in Asmara joining the insurgents in denouncing the ARS officials who took part.
Like previous rounds of talks -- including a six-week peace conference last year in rubble-strewn Mogadishu -- the negotiations have done little to reduce bloodshed on the ground.

Nimco Sara, a resident, said fighting between the insurgents and the allied government and Ethiopian troops killed two fighters and lasted about 15 minutes.

Ethipian denials

In some of the worst violence for weeks, city residents said nearly 50 people died last Friday when Ethiopian soldiers and government troops opened fire on civilians in retaliation after two roadside bombs ripped through their convoys.

This was denied by the Ethiopian foreign ministry.

Near-daily grenade attacks, gun battles and assassinations have driven many civilians from their homes, particularly in the capital, and their plight has been compounded by record food prices, hyper-inflation and drought.

The U.N. statement said both sides in Djibouti were united on the urgent need to address the crisis.

"The parties reaffirmed their strong determination to help ensure unhindered humanitarian access and assistance," it added.

The number of Somalis desperately needing food aid could reach 3.5 million people later this year -- nearly half the population, but the international donors have only funded about a third of a $637 million aid appeal, according to the U.N.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Ağustos 2008, 16:52
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