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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Flying the flag for Somali peace
Asli Hassan Abade
Asli Hassan Abade is respected by warlords and faction leaders
When the transitional Somalia parliament chooses a new president on Sunday, Asli Hassan Abade will be there to "represent the voiceless".

Somalia's only female air force pilot has been waging a one-woman peace campaign, since the last attempt to choose a government in 2001.

She attends every major function, holding the Somalia flag aloft and wearing a dress made from the flag.

Somalia has been without a functioning national government since 1991.

"I'm a voice for the voiceless," she told the BBC's Network Africa, saying that women and children have been the main victims of the 13 years of fighting between rival warlords.

"Men love to fight, I'm sorry to say," she said.

She often stands still, holding the flag, for five hours or more while the politicians debate and make their speeches, hoping that her presence will make it more difficult for the squabbling politicians to scupper a deal.

She says with her military background, she is "a strong lady".

The BBC's Caroline Karobia, who has been attending the Somali peace talks in Kenya, says she is well respected by all the warlords, faction leaders and Somali politicians.

"Everyone greets her and some bow their heads to the Somali flag she holds," our correspondent says.

So will this peace deal succeed where more than a dozen others have failed?

"I can smell the peace," Asli says.


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