Saturday, May 24, 2003

SOMALIA: Fact-finding mission arrives in Mogadishu
NAIROBI, 23 MAY 2003(IRIN)-- A fact-finding mission from the African Union and the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) arrived in Mogadishu on Thursday to look into the security situation in Somalia.

Mission leader Major-General Joseph Musomba of Kenya told IRIN the team planned to visit Baidoa, Bosaso, Belet Weyne, Galkayo and Kismayo, as well as Mogadishu, but that the itinerary would be flexible. Musomba, who remained in Nairobi on Thursday, said he would join the rest of the team shortly.

The 21-member mission, which will spend 10 days in Somalia, also includes observers from the European Union, the Arab League, and Somali delegates, according to a statement by the organisers of the Somali peace talks in Kenya.

Musomba said the aim of the mission was to collect and verify information on the general security situation, aimed at planning the demobilisation of militias and weapons collection. The team would also carry a "message of hope for peace" from the Kenya conference.

The mission would help prepare the ground for the eventual deployment of African Union military observers, he added. He did not know how many observers the AU might send, saying this would depend partly on the results of the fact-finding team.

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