Mogadishu - One of Somalia's warlords, Musa Sudi Yalahow, has said that battling factions are close enough to a pact for him to predict the return of a national government before the end of the year or early in 2000.
Speaking late on Saturday on his return from neighbouring Ethiopia, where he has stayed since August, Yalahow said factions in the war-torn country are close to amicably resolving their differences after lengthy negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
"Before the end of the millennium or early next year, a Somali government would be established, as leaders are more conscious than ever before to end the Somali dilemma," Yalahow, who was guarded by heavily armed militia of his faction jointly with those of his former rivals, told a crowd.
Yalahow, who controls southwest Mogadishu's Medina enclave, praised Ethiopia for its "noble role" in trying to achieve lasting peace in Somalia.
He said that a Djibouti-proposed plan to restore peace in Somalia, which has been riven by clan warfare since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, would help Somalis resolve their differences.
"I absolutely support the initiatives," Yalahow said, referring to proposals by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh's at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday aimed at resolving the Somali crisis.
The proposals included the holding of "a true reconciliation conference" and the prosecution of Somali warlords for crimes against humanity.
Guelleh also suggested that regional organisations in which Somalia is a member - mainly the Organisation of African Unity and the Arab League - should try to use "all means at their disposal", with the help of the United Nations, to redress the Somali situation.
"We now know that none of the Somali factions can use force and unilaterally establish a government. Therefore, we need to have a national Somali government through peace," Yalahow said, pointing out that he felt proud to have been welcomed by all faction militia on return to Mogadishu.
"This event has compelled me to think more about peace and unity," Yalahow declared, in contrast to his stand several months ago when he said that "a Somali government can only be established by force, after one faction has overran the others and seized power."
Guelleh's proposals for peace in Somalia were overwhelmingly supported on November 16 by Somali civil and armed groups at a forum sponsored by the UN Political Office for Somalia held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. - Sapa-AFP