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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK

World: Africa

Somalis demonstrate against warlords

Rival militias have battled for control of Somalia for much of the past decade

Tens of thousands of Somalis have been staging demonstrations in the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities in support of new peace proposals made by the president of Djibouti, Ismael Omar Guellah.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, the Djibouti leader urged Somalia's faction leaders to step aside and let others run the country.

He called for sanctions to be imposed on them if they failed to comply.

The demonstrators gathered in two soccer grounds in the north and the south of the city - many were women and children.

Flags stitched together

They paraded through the streets of Mogadishu waving banners and placards displaying the message 'the time for the warlords is over.'

Some carried photographs of President Guellah and flags of Somalia and Djibouti stitched together.

[ image: Hussein Mohammed Aideed accuses Djibouti of meddling]
Hussein Mohammed Aideed accuses Djibouti of meddling
One of the warlords, Ali Mahdi Mohammed, welcomed the plan, but supporters of his rival, Hussein Mohammed Aideed, held a smaller demonstration in the city accusing the Djibouti president of meddling.

A spokesman for Mr Aideed blamed Djibouti for organising two reconciliation conferences in 1991 which nominated Ali Mahdi Mohamed as interim president.

This, said the spokesman, was at the root of Somalia's problems.

Somalia has been without a central government for nearly 10 years as rival militias battle for power and territory.

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