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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Somali firms 'must end militias'
Somalian militia members
Businesses are being asked to give up their militia protection
Somali businesses have been told to disband the heavily-armed militias many run to protect their interests.

That is the message of the country's newly elected leader Abdullahi Yusuf, who is trying to return a unified government to the war-torn nation.

He said that instead of firms having "technicals", flatbed trucks armed with heavy machine guns, the new government would ensure peace and security.

Somalia has been torn apart by civil war and rival warlords since 1991.

Awash with guns

Mr Yusuf was elected two weeks ago by Somalia's parliament in the safety of neighbouring Kenya, and has yet to return to Mogadishu.

He said earlier this week that with the help of foreign peacekeepers, he hoped to have a Somali army of 30,000 trained and ready to take over security within a year.

"There are 2.5 million small arms throughout Somalia," said Mr Yusuf.

"We have to disarm militias and let business groups disarm their militias.

"We promise that the government will help them in terms of security.

"We want to disarm militias and unify the country."

Mr Yusuf's presidency is the fourteenth attempt to return an effective central government to Somalia since the overthrow of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.


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