German minister makes surprise trip to Somalia | News | DW | 31.03.2012
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German minister makes surprise trip to Somalia

German Development Minister Dirk Niebel has made an unannounced visit to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The visit comes after international leaders pledged to help fight lawlessness in the chaos-hit country.

The minister arrived in Mogadishu under tight security arrangements, with plans to meet leaders of the country's transitional government.

For the past two decades, Somalia has effectively had no functioning central government and has been a breeding ground for terrorism and piracy.

Niebel was also set to meet representatives of the African Union peacekeepers and United Nations organizations working in the country.

"The suffering of the people is great and the security situation is more than precarious," said Niebel.

The minister spoke of the need for greater stability and national reconciliation, as well as national elections and a constitutional process.

First visit in two decades

The German Foreign Ministry said it was the first visit to the country by a member of the government since the country fell into a state of chaos in the early 1990s.

Since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, large swathes of the country are at the mercy of armed groups, including the Islamist Al Shabab militia.

The Western-backed Somali transitional government is based in the capital Mogadishu under the protection of an African Union force, but armed groups control most of the country.

rc/nk (AP, epd)