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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 16:59 GMT
Somali PM pledges reconciliation
New Somali PM Hassan Abshir Farah
Farah has made big promises to desperate Somalis
By Hassan Barise in Mogadishu

The new interim Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Abshir Farah, has said he will make reconciliation among Somali communities and armed groups a top priority for his administration.

Addressing a women's meeting in the former police high school, he said he was prepared to talk to any group opposed to the interim administration.


We will either get rid of the bandits or they will get rid of us. We can no longer co-exist here in Mogadishu or anywhere in Somalia

Hassan Abshir Farah, New PM of Somalia

Mr Farah, who was appointed by the president on Monday, said that within 30 days, he would form a new government which he hopes would cover the entire country.

A year after the transitional authorities came to power, they still have little influence outside the capital, Mogadishu.

But the new prime minister said: "I am receiving positive and immediate reaction from many regions of the country including the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Security

Mr Farah himself comes from Puntland, where he was once interior minister before leaving for Djibouti to chair the peace conference, which culminated in the establishment of the Transitional National Government.

But in an interview with the BBC, a Somali faction leader, Osman Ali Ato, condemned the appointment of Mr Farah.

Mr Ali Ato said it was contrary to pledges given at recent talks in Nairobi by the interim President, Abdulkassim Salad Hassan, about forming a broad-based government.

At Tuesday's meeting, Mr Farah received loud applause when he told the women that security, which has completely broken down in the 10 years of civil war, is one of his top priorities.

He said: "I will make the existing police force a very effective one and will crush all kinds of banditry."

Tough talking

"We will either get rid of the bandits or they will get rid of us, we can no longer co-exist here in Mogadishu or anywhere in Somalia," he said.

The former police high school where the meeting was held was heavily guarded by both armed police and military men and women in uniform with lots of battle wagons.

President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
Abdulkassim's government has not been able to establish itself outside the capital

Colourfully dressed women-groups gave him a warm welcome waving their respective districts' flags.

On the economy the new prime minister, who is renowned for his wit, said: "As soon as I crush the banditry and the lawlessness, I will start collecting local tax revenues so that my government can survive."

The appointment of Mr Farah comes as the country's biggest company, al-Barakaat, is having its foreign assets frozen amidst accusations by the United States that it is linked to the al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden.

Somalia has frequently been mentioned as a refuge for supporters of Bin Laden, held responsible by the US for the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Africa
Somalis stranded in Ethiopia
12 Nov 01 | Africa
New PM in Somalia
08 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali company 'not terrorist'
05 Nov 01 | Africa
Moi reopens Somali border
26 Sep 01 | Africa
US targets Somali group
24 Sep 01 | Africa
UN pulls out of Somalia
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Somalia rejects Bin Laden link
17 Oct 01 | Africa
Starvation threat in Somalia
05 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Somalia
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