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UN, AU, IGAD Warn Against Spoiling Somali Transition

Somali government soldiers patrol a section of Bakara market following the demolition of illegal structures erected next to access roads in Mogadishu, April 30, 2012.
Somali government soldiers patrol a section of Bakara market following the demolition of illegal structures erected next to access roads in Mogadishu, April 30, 2012.

The United Nations and two African bodies are warning they will impose sanctions on anyone who tries to disrupt Somalia's move toward a new constitution.

In a joint statement, the U.N., African Union, and the East African Intergovernmental Agency on Development said too much is at stake to allow Somalia's peace process to backslide.

The bodies said Tuesday that people who try to block the process will be referred to IGAD for possible travel and financial restrictions, and may also be referred to regional U.N. monitors for investigation.

In an interview with VOA's Somali Service, U.N. special envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga said the warning is aimed, in part, at some Somali lawmakers. “We still have elements in the parliament who are threatening to form their own government outside the roadmap and extend themselves," he said.

"There are former warlords, who may be in parliament or outside of parliament, who are essentially in alliance with some members of parliament. But there are also groups that are bent on sabotaging the whole exercise around the constitutional process," Mehiga said. "And we want to engage them in constructive dialogue instead of just obstructing and being diversionary.”

The U.N.-backed "roadmap" for Somalia calls for Somali clan and political leaders to approve a new constitution, to be followed by the selection of a new parliament.

At least five people, including two members of parliament, were killed in a suicide attack Tuesday in the central Somali town of Dhusamareb. A man detonated an explosive belt he was wearing inside a restaurant where a group of politicians had gathered.

Observers hope a new constitution and parliament will help bring peace to Somalia, which has experienced more than 20 years of conflict and chaos since the last stable government fell in 1991.

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