UN council fails to agree on plea to end Somali war
A U.N. envoy urged the Security Council to call for an immediate halt in the fighting in Somalia or risk a broader conflict and greater instability in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation. Failure to reach a political settlement through a resumption of talks between Somali Islamists and interim government forces "would be disastrous for the long-suffering people of Somalia and could also have serious consequences for the entire region," said Francois Lonseny Fall of Guinea, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy for Somalia.
But the 15-nation council was unable to reach agreement on such an appeal after Qatar, its sole Arab member, insisted the statement also call for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian forces -- as well as all other foreign forces -- from Somalia. The other council members backed a statement calling instead only for "unauthorized" forces to pull out, a phrase they argued would not apply to Ethiopian troops which were there at the invitation of the interim government. After more than three hours of negotiations, diplomats said the council was split 14 to one on the matter and suspended their efforts until Wednesday afternoon.
In the meantime, the Arab League, the African Union and the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, which brokered the installation of Somalia's shaky transitional government in 2004, were due to meet in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to discuss the situation, Fall said.
A British diplomat involved in the talks, speaking on condition he not be identified by name, said the Qatari approach was flawed as it "put the cart before the horse."
The approach favored by the other 14 council members would first call for a cease-fire, followed by a resumption of peace talks between the Islamists and the government, in hopes of ultimately reaching a deal creating the necessary conditions for a withdrawal of all foreign forces, this diplomat said.