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Journalist Shooting Will Not Stop Relocation Plans, says Somalia Official


Somali presidential spokesman Yusuf Baribari told VOA whoever gunned down BBC producer Kate Peyton in Mogadishu will not stop his government from returning to Somalia from its current base in Nairobi.

"If the intention was to scare the Somali institutions and the international community, they simply failed because they are getting back an opposite reaction. We are very, very much more committed to go back to our country as soon as possible," he said.

Ms. Peyton was shot by unknown gunmen Wednesday shortly after she and a colleague arrived in Mogadishu to report on the situation there.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi said members of his government would start leaving Kenya on February 21. A government delegation accompanied by journalists is currently in Mogadishu on a fact-finding mission and to start setting up offices there.

Mr. Baribari said Mogadishu is the most violent area of Somalia. He said it is up to members of parliament to decide whether or not they want to move to Mogadishu or pick another political capital, such as Baidoa, a choice many members seem to favor.

The issue of an African Union peace support mission being sent to Somalia to improve security so that the government can re-locate is also controversial, with many Somalis and even parliamentary members opposing foreign intervention.

The African Union is scheduled to send a fact-finding mission to Somalia Friday.

The International Crisis Group warned Wednesday that an AU peace support mission, although a good idea in theory, could destabilize Somalia further if not all government members agree to the plan.

The group's Somalia analyst, Matt Bryden, says, "No troops should set foot in Somalia unless they have the approval of the full cabinet and the parliament. These are transitional structures, so it is not as though you have a majority vote and if 30 percent are not happy, that is OK because those 30 percent could include major military and political forces on the ground in a situation that is just emerging from conflict."

Government spokesman Mr. Baribari said the AU mission is what he calls a "friendly force" dedicated primarily to setting up water, sanitation, and road systems, and to train militia who the government screens to join the police force. He said the mission would merely support - but not dictate - measures that Somalis plan to take to bring peace to their country after 14 years of civil war.

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