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Somali Government Postpones Disarmament

The Somali government has postponed a plan to forcibly disarm Somali residents as security forces clashed with several hundred demonstrators in the capital, Mogadishu.

A government spokesman announced the postponement Saturday. He offered no explanation and did not say when the plan might be implemented.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi issued an ultimatum for all residents to either voluntarily surrender their weapons or have them forcibly taken.

Officials in Mogadisu say an exchange of gunfire with protesters today in the capital left at least one person dead. The demonstrators were protesting the proposed disarmament as well as the presence of Ethiopian troops who are backing the interim government.

Ethiopian troops joined government forces to drive out Islamic fighters who had seized control of Mogadishu and much of Somalia for six months.

The east African nation has been mired in anarchy since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991.

On Friday, the United States pledged $40 million to support a proposed peacekeeping force in Somalia. The offer also includes humanitarian and development aid. The U.S. issued the pledge after a meeting of Western, African and Arab diplomats in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Participants pushed for a quick deployment of foreign peacekeepers, approved last month by the United Nations.

So far, Uganda is the only country to have pledged troops for the mission.

The top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, says she believes the proposed peacekeeping force could be in Somalia by the end of January.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.