UN leader warns Somali leaders over parliament delays

AFP , Tuesday 14 Aug 2012

UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls Security Council to take measures against any 'intimidation and violence' that could threaten the selection of parliament and the future of the reconciliation process in Somalia

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) walking on the roof of the parliament building in the Somali capital Mogadishu August 6, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

UN leader Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday that "intimidation and violence" could threaten the selection of a Somali parliament before a looming deadline, his spokesman said.

Ban highlighted a threat by the UN Security Council to take measures against any group or individual who undermines the stumbling reconciliation process in Somalia, which has not had a stable government in more than two decades.

The mandate of the nation's corruption-ridden transitional government ends August 20 and by that time Elders representing all of Somalia's clans, tribes and factions are meant to choose a parliament to organize full elections.

But political murders and corruption allegations have mounted in recent weeks. The United Nations and European Union have expressed concern while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with Somali leaders when in Nairobi last week.

Ban "is seriously concerned about delays in the selection of the new Somali parliament," his spokesman Martin Nesirky said, noting that recent acts of intimidation and violence should not be allowed to jeopardize the transition.

"He calls upon the Somali political leadership, the traditional Elders and other parties to rise above their differences and to act in the best interest of the Somali people," Nesirky said.

Ban said "the work of the Elders must proceed in a manner free from intimidation, coercion and corruption." A technical committee also working on the parliament selection must also "be allowed to perform its duties independently and impartially, without fear of reprisal," added Nesirky.

Somalia's transitional government has been propped up by an African Union force of more than 15,000 troops who are battling Shebab Islamist militants. Somalia is also plagued by piracy and widespread crime.

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