Somali government threatened by extremist groups: UN 2009-07-30 05:57:30   Print

    UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The UN special representative for Somalia told the Security Council on Wednesday that the Somali transitional government is on its heels trying to thwart repeated attempts by extremist groups to overthrow it.

    "Despite multiple constraints, the government is resisting and repelling multiple attempts to overthrow it and seize power illegally by force," Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said.

    Repeated attacks by Al-Shabaab and Hizbul-Islam militants have sent the Horn of Africa nation into chaos, with refugees fleeing by the thousands. Both extremist groups are severely bent on trying to overthrow the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is Somalia's 14th since 1991.

    In an opinion piece published the same day as al-Shabaab broke into UN offices on July 20, Abdallah noted efforts to impose sanctions on those responsible for the coup attempts, which he called "externally funded."

    "A list is being compiled for the UN sanctions committee of those who may find their assets frozen and face a travel ban," he wrote in the Washington Post.

    However, the United Nations has refrained from placing Al-Shabaab on its list of terrorist groups with links to Al Qaeda, something the United States has done independently.

    A member state would have to issue a recommendation that al-Shabaab be placed on the terrorist sanctions list, which would then require countries to freeze assets and issue a travel ban for those linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    Asked whether any member state of the United Nations had indicated a willingness to recommend that al-Shabaab be placed on the terrorist sanctions list, Abdallah told Xinhua that "it was not an issue."

    Instead, Abdallah said the real concern for the transitional government was business motivations, not ones of political or religious natures.

    "We have a tendency in Africa and here at headquarters to ignore other trivial motivation (of) business," he said. "Somalia has become a free-trade zone ... because they don't pay taxes and this is not mentioned."

    However, speaking to reporters last month, Chairman of the Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee Thomas Mayr-Harting said: "Al Qaeda and Taliban still represent a very real threat ... in new geographical dimensions such as Somalia."

    Speaking to the Security Council, Abdallah urged the international community to throw its weight behind the TFG by supplying more troops and equipment to the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM.

    He also called for the Council to establish a "Green Zone," similar to the one in Iraq, and urged diplomats and non-government organizations to move from Nairobi to Mogadishu.

    "Our temporary presence in Nairobi has lasted for too long," he said. "We can only work effectively for peace with the Somalis and address pressing humanitarian needs if we are close to the victims of famine, violence and different abuses."

Editor: Yan
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