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Somalia’s Transitional Government Should End in August, UN Says

Somalia’s internationally backed Transitional Federal Government should be replaced by a new body before its mandate expires in August, said the United Nations special representative for the country.

Talks between the international community and Somali officials over the next six weeks should help to produce a succession proposal, the UN’s Augustine Mahiga told reporters today in Nairobi, capital of neighboring Kenya. The International Somalia Contact Group, whose members are mostly Western donor nations, is scheduled to meet in mid-March to help “chart the way forward,” he said.

“All international actors are saying the government has to end in August,” said Mahiga. “What we are trying to get consensus on is how to end it. And in the process we are also going to say the form that the government is going to be.”

Somalia has been in a state of civil war for two decades and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The country’s transitional government and 8,000 African Union troops are battling Islamic militants for control of the capital, Mogadishu, and southern and central Somalia.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed have given assurances they want to end the current government’s tenure in August, said Mahiga.

A draft constitution that would pave the way for elections and replace the charter that guides the operations of the transitional government won’t be enacted before its mandate expires, Mahiga said.

“The constitutional process should have been our ideal path,” though it can’t be expedited because “we don’t want a half-baked document” determining the future of Somalia, he said.

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