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Abdillahi Yusuf To Disarm Baidowians
Militia formerly loyal to Somalia's President Abdillahi Yusuf wear Islamic headgear given to them by the Supreme Islamic Courts Council after they defected from Baidoa, the only town under government control, to join the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006.
BAIDOA, Somalia, August 1, 2006 – Somalia's president told residents of the only town his government controls Tuesday that they have a week to give up their weapons or "every single gun" would be seized by force.
President Abdillahi Yusuf said his government would pay people for any arms surrendered, and that the details of the disarmament plan would be released Wednesday.
He did not say why his government decided on the measure, but two lawmakers have been shot in Baidoa, 155 miles from the capital of Mogadishu, over the past week, one fatally. More than 20 others have resigned in disgust, including four on Tuesday.
Somalia's government has no military and relies on a militia loyal to Yusuf.
The administration was formed two years ago with the support of the United Nations to help Somalia emerge from more than a decade of anarchy, but it has established no real authority.
The government has watched helplessly as Islamic militants with alleged ties to al-Qaida have tightened their grip on southern Somalia and Mogadishu.
Somalia has about 200 members of parliament who were appointed along clan lines to accommodate disparate groups that have the support of Somalis.
"Because of ... the lack of a clear policy, we have decided to resign and join the other former ministers who have already stepped down," said a statement released by the four lawmakers who resigned Tuesday, including the deputy minister for treasury.
Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi barely survived a no-confidence vote in parliament over the weekend, but insisted Tuesday that government would continue to function.
"My government has survived political turmoil, and right now I hope it will stand on its own two legs soon," Gedi told journalists after Tuesday's resignations.
Foreign ministers of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development met Tuesday in neighboring Kenya to discuss the situation in Somalia. Their agenda was expected to include a report by a fact-finding mission that recommends the quick deployment of a peacekeeping operation _ a step rejected by the Islamic group but repeatedly called for by the government.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, also backs a proposal to lift an international arms embargo to help the government provide security. An U.N.-imposed arms embargo has been in place since 1992, but it has been violated by all sides in the Somali conflict.
The regional group mediated talks beginning four years ago that led to the formation of Somalia's government. Besides Somalia , IGAD members include Djibouti , Eritrea , Ethiopia , Sudan , Uganda and Kenya .
The Islamic militants who rule much of the south have imposed strict religious courts, raising fears of an emerging Taliban-style regime. The United States accuses the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The militants have brought a remarkable amount of control to a country that has seen little more than chaos since 1991, when longtime dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre was toppled. On Monday, 275 militiamen with 50 pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns were sent to central Somalia to break up the bases of Somali pirates who have been kidnapping sailors.
"They will also help people in those areas set up their own Islamic courts and local administrations," Sheik Mohamud Siyad Inda Adde, the group's security chairman, told The Associated Press.
The United States and other Western powers have cautioned outsiders against meddling in Somalia, which has no single ruling authority and can be manipulated by anyone with money and guns. But there is little sign the warning has been heeded.
On Tuesday, Kazakhstan said it was investigating reports that a plane bearing the ex-Soviet republic's national flag delivered weapons for Islamic militants in Somalia twice last week. Somalia's government alleges the deliveries were arms from Eritrea.
Officials in Kazakhstan, a vast oil-rich Central Asian nation, had been involved in a string of illegal arms dealing scandals after the 1991 Soviet collapse, including sales of military equipment to Ethiopia and Congo. Kazakh air operators also often make their planes available for charter.
Associated Press writers Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu and Bagila Bukharbayeva in Almaty , Kazakhstan , contributed to this report.
Source: The Associated Press