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Somali President Talks to VOA

  • James Butty

After years of civil war, Somali warlords and clan leaders have reconciled their differences and formed a new central government in Kenya. They have also elected a president, a prime minister, and a transitional federal assembly. A cabinet will be announced soon.

The newly appointed government of Somalia says its main priorities will be reconciliation and national security. President Ahmed has asked the African Union for peacekeeping troops.

From Nairobi, where the new Somali government was elected and from where it has been operating, President Ahmed talked with English to Africa reporter James Butty about the prospects of African Union peacekeepers for Somalia. He said he has asked the African Union for between 15 to 20,000 peacekeepers, and he says a number of African countries have responded positively to his request. He says the UN Security Council, at its recent meeting in Nairobi, endorsed his request for peacekeepers.

President Ahmed says his first task is to put together a government. After that, he says he will send a team to Mogadishu to prepare the way for the new government to return to the Somali capita, Mogadishu. He brushed off suggestions by a militia leader that he and the new government would not be welcome there.

President Ahmed says the civil war lasted for 14 years because of a lack of leadership and the failure of the international community to do its job. He says he took up arms against the late President Siad Barre in 1991 because the situation then led him to use force. But he says it did not produce the desired results and now they all regret that they started the war.

He says one lesson that other African countries can learn from the Somali civil war is that that they must produce good leaders in order to avoid a similar problem.