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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Somalis brainstorm on rebuilding
Grant Ferrett
BBC, Mogadishu

Somali refugees
The research will provide a rare indication of Somali public opinion
A group of about 150 Somalis are meeting in the capital, Mogadishu, to discuss rebuilding the country.

Somalia has been without a functioning central government since 1991.

Those taking part include academics, businessmen and others from various parts of the region, as well as Somalis living overseas.

But with no real government, no police force and a shattered transport network, Somalia is not an easy place in which to stage a conference.

The fact that the gathering is taking place at all is an achievement.

Authority and credibility

The Mogadishu-based Centre for Research and Dialogue is bringing together Somalis from the central and southern regions of the country to consider how to promote reconstruction after years of lawlessness and civil war.

Somalia must have a government - it has to happen soon
Abdul Kadir Yahya Ali
Centre for Research and Dialogue
One of the directors of the centre, Abdul Kadir Yahya Ali, says Somalia desperately needs a central government which has authority and credibility.

I wanted to be as lucky as any other human being on earth," he said. "I want what every good human citizen wants to have.

"I'd hate to have another 50 years of chaos and we will do everything we can to the best of our ability to avoid that. Somalia must have a government. It has to happen soon."

The two-day meeting will discuss the findings of two years of research based on interviews with 13,000 Somalis.

The research provides a rare indication of public opinion in a country where the absence of law and order and of central administration means that even the most basic statistical information is not compiled.

As the conference is held in Mogadishu, delegates to Somalia's long-running peace talks in Kenya continue their efforts to create a new government with a target date of the end of July.


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