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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Peace strike closes Somali capital
By Hassan Barise
BBC, Mogadishu

Civil society activists in Somalia have gone on strike to push for an end to the 12-year civil war.

The capital, Mogadishu, was paralysed by the strike which began early on Wednesday morning.

Somali woman holding sick child
The hospitals remained closed except for the emergency cases
School children stayed at home, hospitals closed their doors, except for emergencies, and the universities stopped lectures.

The strike followed a big meeting on Tuesday in Mogadishu where more than 14 civil society groups, including the universities, the doctor's union, the two education umbrella groups and others issued an eight-point appeal for peace, starting with the strike.

The other points include a call for the people to make the warlords accountable for the killings, abductions and rapes committed in the areas they claim to run, and the demolition of all roadblocks in Mogadishu.

Political affiliations

The appeal is also directed at the clans and armed warlords not to support bandits because of clan or political affiliations.

This is the first time that such a strike has taken place in Mogadishu, where the civil society groups now appear to be showing their influence.

Delegates at Somali peace talks
Peace talks in Kenya have failed to stop the fighting

Two weeks ago they staged a five-day campaign in several parts of the country, involving musicians and dancers calling for peace.

Dr Osman Aden Abdulle, a famous doctor in Mogadishu, who is also the son of Somalia's first president, whom I met in Hayat hospital, said the strike is aimed at producing a public uprising against the banditry.

"We aim to unify the people for their interest of standing against the bandits," said Dr Osman.

Smarter bandits

Some peace activists say the bandits are united by crime and not the clan affiliations, which they claim to be defending.

"The bandits are smarter than the normal people," said Ahmed Mohamed Ali, one of the peace activists.

In a press briefing, Mogadishu police chief Abdi Hassan Awaleh Qeybdid said since the beginning of this week, two people have been arrested in connection with the killing of seven people and for several other banditry related activities.

The police say the arrests highlight their efforts in recent weeks to reduce crime rates, although the killing and abductions of unarmed people continues.


SEE ALSO:
Anger over Somali talks move
21 Feb 03  |  Africa
Analysis: Somalia's powerbrokers
08 Jan 02  |  Africa


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