Mon, Jul 31, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Somali lawmakers brawl in wake of confidence vote

AGENCIES , BAIDOA, SOMALIA

Some Somali lawmakers threw punches and wrestled on the floor after Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi survived a crucial confidence vote that could have led to the collapse of his government.

Armed police entered parliament to separate four brawling members of parliament and escort Gedi out during several minutes of chaos after he survived the censure motion, witnesses said.

Gedi won 88 votes to his opponents' 126, short of the two-thirds majority they needed to censure him in an old grain store that is the temporary parliament.

Defeat would have sparked the dissolution of the interim government's executive, already in some disarray over the threat from an Islamist movement that has taken the capital, Mogadishu, and a large part of southern Somalia.

On Saturday, Gedi accused Egypt, Libya and Iran of providing arms to Islamic militants, the latest allegation that the nation is being torn apart by outsiders.

"Egypt, Libya and Iran, whom we thought were friends, are engaged in fueling the conflict in Somalia by supporting the terrorists," Gedi said.

He cited unnamed sources in his government and offered no proof.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry denied the claims, saying Cairo supports peace and stability in Somalia.

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