December 16, 2006

EU is deeply concerned abot deteriorating security situation in Somalia

BRUSSELS, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Saturday expressed its "deepest concern" about the deteriorating security situation in Somalia and the risk of an imminent war in the African country.

"I call upon all parties to refrain from engaging in a war that cannot be won by anyone. The spoilers and warmongers of all sorts that seek conflict in order to prevail militarily are fooling themselves as well as the Somali people," said Louis Michel, EU commissioner for development for humanitarian aid, in a statement.

"A new war in Somalia will have tragic consequences not just for the people of Somalia but for the whole region and beyond. We simply cannot afford to see what is going to happen," he said.

The Somali people are tired of war and violence. They crave and deserve peace, security and development for their country, and a chance to build decent livelihoods and a future for their children, he added.

Michel warned the danger of an imminent conflict between the transitional government and the Islamic militia, the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC).

Michel had contacts this week in Nairobi with various Somali leaders, including President Abdullahi Yusuf and the leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.

Michel urged all parties to commit themselves to engaging in negotiations in good faith and without preconditions and to resume talks in the framework of the Khartoum process.

"I do not accept that Somalia is doomed. From the contacts I have had with all the Somali leaders this week, I am convinced that there is still a will to avoid war. There is still a window of opportunity for resolving the problems through political dialogue within the framework of the Transitional Charter."

However, President Yusuf has ruled out further peace talks with the SCIC, which he said has close links with al- Qaida.

The Arab League-mediated reconciliation talks were scheduled to take place next week in Khartoum, but now look doubtful due to counter accusations traded by both sides.

Michel said the Khartoum talks must resume "as a matter of urgency." There must be concerted and greater efforts from all the regional and international organizations and actors to press the parties to seek a peaceful solution to the current crisis.

Military tension is concentrated around Baidoa, where the transitional government is based. Both the SCIC militia and government troops have strengthened their positions in view of a possible direct military confrontation.

The SCIC has so far refused to allow the deployment of an African peacekeeping contingent, which the UN Security Council has already approved recently, to protect the fragile transitional government in Baidoa.

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The two-year-old transitional government has been unable to assert control across the nation.

Xinhua News

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