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Catholic World News News Feature

Somali warlords deny entry to new government June 15, 2005

Plans to establish the transitional national government of Somalia have been derailed at least temporarily, as warlords controlling two cities have refused to allow government officials to set up headquarters.

President Abdullahi Yusuf, the head of the transition government, had planned to set up his administration in Jowahr. But he was forced to divert his plane to Djibouti, after the warlord who controls Jowhar, Muhammed Dhere, refused entry to the government. Other officials of the new government had hoped to establish headquarters in Baidoa, but the warlord there, Mohammed Ibrahim Habsade, also rejected the notion. The warlords agreed that the new government should be established in the old capital city of Mogadishu.

The transition government, chosen last year after negotiations in Kenya, has delayed for months in establishing a presence in Somalia. The would-be leaders were finally prodded to move back to their own country when Kenyan leaders gave them a June 15 deadline for leaving that country.

Somalia has been without an effective national government for 14 years. The territory of the African nation is controlled by competing warlords, whose continued strength poses the first great challenge for the new administration. The African Union has promised to help the new government establish control.

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