- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

Peace in Somalia?
NAIROBI, Kenya Somalia's warring factions took a major step yesterday toward restoring peace in their war-torn country by signing a cease-fire accord to permit the drafting of a new constitution.
The signing at Eldoret, in northwest Kenya, was witnessed by representatives from the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, the Arab League, Egypt and IGAD the seven-nation regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and, nominally, Somalia.
Under the pact, 22 Somali faction leaders "committed themselves to the establishment of a national federal government and pledged security for humanitarian operations," a top official of the mediating committee told Agence France-Presse by telephone.
Somalia, on the Horn of Africa, has been ruled by clan warlords since the overthrow of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre nearly 12 years ago.
Faction chiefs Hussein Mohammed Aidid, Musa Sudi Yalahow, Osman Hassan Ali "Atto," Gen. Mohammed Said Hirsi Morgan, Col. Hassan Mohammed Noor "Shatigudud" and Barre Hirale attended the conference, along with delegates from the Transitional National Government (TNG) and the northeastern territory of Puntland.
Each controls portions of the divided country, while the TNG, set up in August 2000 after a peace conference in neighboring Djibouti, controls parts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Kosovo poll shunned
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia A record-low turnout during Kosovo's local elections over the weekend reflected the misgivings of ethnic Albanian voters about their leaders and is likely once again to keep Serbs out of office in many areas.
Michael Steiner, the United Nations' top man in the U.N.-administered Serbian province, said that he was pleased with the overall turnout around 50 percent, according to preliminary results, a significant drop from the slightly below 80 percent in the first such election in 2000.
The U.N. administration had made the participation of minority Serbs a priority after their boycott of the 2000 poll and hoped that efforts to promote reconciliation and multi-ethnic democracy would be successful. But officials in the province confirmed that the Serbian turnout was low.
Mr. Steiner had promised before the election to open a debate in November on a decentralization policy that would establish local municipalities in areas where Serbs are living. But he warned that the debate was in jeopardy, given the low turnout.
Rada Trajkovic, head of the Serbian coalition Povratak (Return) in the Kosovo assembly, criticized Mr. Steiner's position, saying his U.N. mandate is not to "punish the Serbian community" by canceling the debate on decentralization.
"His mandate is to work for our survival and return to Kosovo, and the key to [Serbian] survival is decentralization," Mr. Trajkovic told Tanjug news agency.
More than 200,000 Serbs fled Kosovo in 1999 for other parts of Serbia or neighboring Montenegro after a NATO-led military campaign and deployment of KFOR, or Kosovo Force, peacekeepers. The 80,000 or so remaining in the province lead an isolated life under heavy KFOR protection.

Cultural sites imperiled
PARIS The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is gearing up for the 30th anniversary of a convention intended to preserve the world's cultural heritage, but wars, pollution and urbanization continue to threaten the 730 sites listed, a top official said yesterday.
"World heritage is the positive side of globalization," said Francesco Bandarin, head of the organization's World Heritage Center, adding, "But for a common heritage, we need to share out the responsibility."
The development of private-public partnerships intended to protect the hundreds of natural and cultural heritage sites around the world will be one of the issues tackled by 500 experts at a conference to be held Nov. 14-16 in Venice.
Beyond seeking partnerships for cultural heritage conservation, participants will analyze past successes and failures.
Correspondent Betsy Pisik is on assignment. Her column will resume when she returns.


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