Somali PM Mohamed orders UN to return to Mogadishu

Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
Image caption Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed's government has recently announced the extension of its mandate

UN agencies involved in Somalia, but based in neighbouring Kenya for safety reasons, have been told to move to Mogadishu within three months.

The order came from the prime minister of Somalia's UN-backed interim government, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

He said the UN had offices in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan which were "more dangerous than the Somali capital".

Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda control much of the country.

But the government, backed by African Union troops, has recently gained some ground in Mogadishu from the al-Shabab militants.

The UN envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, told the BBC's Somali Service that the prime minister's announcement was "ambitious".

He said that about half of the 1,500-strong UN mission to Somalia were already based in the country, while the rest visit frequently.

Mr Mohamed said the security of the areas controlled by his government and its allies had improved a great deal.

"This government has decided all UN agencies working for Somalia ought to move to Mogadishu within 90 days so that it will become easier for them to know the Somali situation," he told reporters in Mogadishu.

Mohamed Mohamed, from the BBC's Somali Service, says the weak transitional government has been trying to flex its muscles recently.

Last week it announced it was extending its mandate for a year.

It has also rejected an invitation by the UN to attend a reconciliation meeting on Somalia's future in the Kenyan capital, saying it should be held in Somalia.

Mr Mahiga has urged all Somali leaders and groups to attend the gathering in Nairobi later this month.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since Siad Barre was ousted 20 years ago.

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