10/07/08 (B455) Shabelle network avec AFP / L’Union africaine demande des sanctions contre ceux qui agissent contre la paix en Somalie – Les forces islamistes sont visées par cet appel. African Union demands sanctions against Somalia peace spoilers (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The African Union (AU) demanded UN sanctions against all Somali parties hampering last month’s truce agreement and whose implementation was due to begin Wednesday.

The pan-African body’s main executive body, the AU commission, « reiterates the need for the UN Security Council to take measures against those who are jeopardising the ongoing political process in Somalia and regional stability, » said a statement received in French by AFP.

« In short, this means that the AU is urging the UN to impose targeted sanctions against individuals or powers hampering the peace process in Somalia, » a senior AU official told AFP.

The Horn of Africa country has been in the throes of a brutal civil war since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre.

Ethiopian troops invaded in late 2006 to rescue an embattled interim government and soon ousted an Islamist group which had briefly controlled large parts of the country.

The ensuing guerilla war pitting Islamist insurgents against government troops and allied Ethiopian and African Union peacekeeping forces has plunged Somalia into further chaos.

According to international rights groups and aid organisations, at least 6,000 civilians have been killed in the violence over the past year alone and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The violence has defied more than a dozen peace initiatives over the past 17 years, but in the latest attempt to quell the bloodshed, a UN-brokered truce deal was reached on June 9 in Djibouti.

The agreement was initiated by the Somali transitional government and several top leaders from the main Islamist-dominated opposition alliance.

However other leading Islamist officials and military commanders have rejected the agreement, insisting that Ethiopian troops should unilaterally pull out of Somalia before peace talks can start.

The Djibouti deal gave signatories a month to start implementing a cessation of hostilities but holdout factions have continued to target the government and Ethiopian forces in recent days.

Rival Islamist leaders have been meeting in the Yemeni capital Sanaa since Monday in a bid to unify opposition ranks and broaden support for the latest peace efforts.