Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled the country to escape continuing violence.
Opposition groups walk out of the Djibouti peace talks on Somalia, accusing the Ethiopians of secret talks with other participants.
The United Nations-chaired meeting is aimed at implementing a recent reconciliation agreement between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS).
Press TV’s correspondent in Somalia reports that the talks ran aground after the Ethiopian ambassador to Djibouti was seen having ‘secret meetings’ with members of the International Contact Group.
The Djibouti peace accord is an 11-point peace agreement paving the way for “the cessation of all armed confrontation” across Somalia, and calls for a 90-day ceasefire by all parties involved and a withdrawal of all Ethiopian troops within 120 days. It also requested the UN to authorize the deployment of an international stabilization force from countries that are “friends of Somalia”.
Despite the opposition – led by high ranking Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) member Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed- vowing not to return, the talks are scheduled to resume within a few hours.
The Horn of Africa country has been in chaos because of its violent civil war. In 1991, the repressive leader Siad Barre, was deposed after which the UN sent in peacekeepers to provide humanitarian aid and attempt to stabilize the situation.
The UN presence, which was welcomed at first, was gradually viewed with suspicion and eventually led to violence between peacekeepers and local gunmen, the most well known incident being the Battle of Mogadishu.
The UN withdrew in 1995 leaving the country no better off than before.
Between 1998 and 2006 various self-proclaimed states rose in Somalia and the UIC grew in strength until they captured the capital in the Second Battle of Mogadishu. The growing strength of the Islamic movement was followed with further warfare with other factions such as the TFG, Puntland and Galmudug and led to the intervention by US-backed Ethiopian forces in the country.
On December 7, 2006 the leaders of the UIC resigned after the Battle of Baidoa and the brief final action at Jowhar. In 2007, the US intervened, conducting airstrikes against the Islamic group’s positions.
The ARS created in September 2007 consists of Somali Islamists and opposition leaders who have joined forces to fight the occupation of Somalia by Ethiopian and TFG forces.