Somali ceasefire set to take effect November 5
A ceasefire agreement between the Somali government and parts of the Islamist opposition is set to take effect on November 5, after the warring parties reached an agreement Sunday evening in Djibouti, reported dpa.
The agreement, negotiated under United Nations auspices, also laid the groundwork for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. Those troops have supported the provisional government since Ethiopia provided assistance in early 2007 to overthrow a government run by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
According to the agreement, the provisional government and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, which is made up of moderate ICU factions, plan to form a national unity government
Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, the UN's special representative to Somalia, spoke of a hopeful signal and an "important development." He said both sides had shown their commitment to the peace process.
According to both sides, African Union peacekeepers will be called upon to ensure that there is no power vacuum until UN peacekeepers can replace the withdrawing Ethiopian forces. The UN Security Council has already approved peacekeeping operations in Somalia, but only given improved security conditions.
The ceasefire was negotiated back in June and should have been implemented within 30 days. It is not clear if a ceasefire is actually possible, as many radical Islamist groups, particularly al- Shaabab, the military wing of the ICU, have already said they will continue their fight.
Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have already fled, especially from heavy fighting in the war-torn capital of Mogadishu.