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Catholic World News News Feature

Somali warlords to withdraw forces from capital May 11, 2005

Rival warlords in Somalia have agreed to withdraw their forces from the capital city of Mogadishu, beginning on May 14, in a signal victory for the country's new transitional government.

Somalia has been without an effective national government for more than a decade, with warlords and clan leaders battling for control of the nation's territory. But last year, after lengthy peace talks in Kenya, most of the rival leaders joined in the agreement that led to the formation of a transition government. The most influential warlords are now ministers in the government cabinet.

After weeks of delay, the transition government is now working to establish control over Somalia, setting up offices in Mogadishu, with the support of an international African peacekeeping force. Clan leaders have announced that they will withdraw their own militia troops from the capital, to guarantee security for the new government. The warlords have not, however, agreed to disband their forces.

Last week an explosion hit a rally being addressed by Ali Mohammed Ghedi, the prime minister of the transition government, at the Mogadishu soccer stadium. Bishop Georgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Somalia, reacted by calling for greater international pressure on the warring clan leaders, to force them to cooperate with the new government.

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