Somali Deal Calls for 5-Year Transitional Government

MOGADISHU, Somalia, FEB. 1, 2004 (ZENIT.orgVeritas).- Representatives from 42 Somali factions signed an agreement for peace and outlined a plan on how this eastern African nation should be governed.

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The agreement, signed Thursday in Kenya, stipulates the formation of a new transition government for a five-year term; a parliament with 275 members instead of the previously set 350; and a new federal Constitution to be approved by popular referendum.

The peace agreement sanctions and guarantees the application of the cease-fire reached in October 2002 but not respected. At least 300 people have died in recent months in fights among the factions.

A census must be conducted prior to the referendum. Estimates of the population vary from 8 million to 10 million.

The agreement was signed by the Transition National Government, which controls only part of Mogadishu; the National Salvation Councils; and the Council of Somalia for Reconstruction and Reconciliation. These groups divide Somalia in clans and promote regional interests.

The agreement was mediated by Kenya and the Inter-Government Authority for Development, made up of six East African countries.

Somalia had been in a state of anarchy since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Siad Barre.

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