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Somalia Disappointed Over Peacekeeping Delays

The Somali government says it intends to go ahead with its relocation plans from Kenya to Somalia despite an apparent lack of a regional peacekeeping force to bring stability and order to the country.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari tells VOA the reluctance of some African Union members to send peacekeeping troops to Somalia makes him and his colleagues feel ignored and deserted.

He says Somalia is still too chaotic and insecure for the government to return to the capital, Mogadishu, from its base in Kenya, and that his country desperately needs peacekeepers from outside.

"So if the international community will not [honor] the request of the Somali government, then the international community, especially the U.N., will take responsibility," he said.

Despite the absence of peacekeepers, says Mr. Dinari, the Somali government is committed to the peace process and will continue its relocation plans.

The government spokesman was reacting to a meeting in Kenya Thursday at which a senior Sudanese army official had, according to media reports, "expressed reservations" about sending Sudanese peacekeeping troops into volatile Somalia.

Similarly, earlier this month, Uganda announced it would delay deploying 800 troops it promised to send to Somalia, saying that Uganda and Sudan failed to raise enough troops to safely relocate Somalia's transitional government.

Since 1991, factional leaders and their militias have controlled different parts of Somalia, with no central government to provide law and order.

The regional grouping Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had facilitated a two-year peace process in Kenya that brought together factional leaders, civil society representatives and others to end the conflict. A new transitional government was formed from the process.

But many government members have been reluctant to return to Mogadishu and other parts, citing security concerns.

IGAD member states agreed to send a peace support mission to Somalia. Uganda and Sudan were to have supplied the troops, while other countries provided additional assistance.

An analyst with the International Crisis Group, Matt Bryden, says he is confident that initiatives on the ground such as agreements between militias and the training of militiamen to form a new army will be effective.

“Actually, I think what we're seeing in Mogadishu is that a large part of the security problem can be dealt with by the Somalis themselves," he noted.

Mr. Bryden says he thinks the peace process will continue even if peacekeepers do not come to Somalia.