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US Diplomat Wraps Up Regional Tour to Bring About Somali Stability


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer late Sunday wrapped up her four-nation tour aimed at bringing stability to Somalia. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Frazer told reporters in Nairobi, the purpose of her trip was threefold: to shore up international support for Somalia's transitional government, move forward to deploy a stabilization force in Somalia, and to encourage the government to bring representatives from clans, religious groups, civil society and other representatives together for political dialogue.

Frazer said she and others in the International Contact Group on Somalia made what she calls significant progress in getting the international community to support the transitional government.

And, she said, Uganda has offered to deploy 1,500 troops into Somalia. The African Union is working to beef up its force, and Kenyan Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju plans to travel to five African countries to seek additional troops.

But, says Frazer, a key challenge for Somalia's transitional government, known as TFG will be to bring all concerned parties in Somalia to the negotiating table.

"The statements of the TFG leadership must be matched by positive actions inside Somalia," said Jendayi Frazer. "We have made clear that we see a role in the future of Somalia for all who renounce violence and extremism. Over the course of the last few days, I have encouraged the leadership of the TFIs [transitional federal institutions] to make clear through statements and actions their commitment to an inclusive process of dialogue and reconciliation."

Somalia has recently emerged from several weeks of war in which Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops have been battling with fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts Union, which took control of the capital and much of southern Somalia earlier this year.

The Islamists have abandoned the capital, Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other places, and the Somali government says it now has control of Somalia.

Frazer said she does not want to see a return to what she calls warlordism in Somalia, where factional leaders and their militias control different parts of the country, as has been the case since the early 1990s.

She says Islamic leaders have a role to play in a peaceful Somalia.

"The traditional religious leaders - Islamic leaders - have a stake in Somali society in this dialogue, in this reconciliation," she said. "There's no reason why they shouldn't be part of it."

Frazer's trip included visits to Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government late last week identified 26 members of Somalia's parliament staying in Kenya who, according to the Kenyan government, are acting against Somalia's best interests.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Tuju would not specify what those actions were, but said the legislators must be sent back to Somalia immediately.

"We think it is inappropriate to have members of that government tearing it to pieces from another country," said Kenya's foreign minister. "We sincerely believe that, as members of parliament, they should go to their parliament, they should differ in their parliament, they should complain in their parliament."

Somalia's transitional government was formed in Kenya about two years ago, following lengthy peace talks.

Earlier this year, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of the capital and other areas. Negotiations between Somalia's transitional government and the Islamic Courts Union collapsed in Sudan in November.

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