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U.N. Chief Scolds Somalis at Talks : Africa: As Boutros-Ghali calls for peace at a meeting in Ethiopia, security forces fire on students protesting his visit. At least 3 are killed and more than 60 wounded.

January 05, 1993|STANLEY MEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali joined African and other international leaders here Monday in admonishing Somali warlords and other political figures from Somalia on their responsibility to restore their war- and famine-racked nation after plunging it into murderous chaos.

But the call for Somali peace was overshadowed by an incident in which Ethiopian security forces, firing bullets and wielding bayonets and batons, killed at least three university students and wounded more than 60 other protesters who were angered by Boutros-Ghali's planned visit to the separatist province of Eritrea.

Three miles from the demonstration, the secretary general--speaking in Africa Hall, the Organization of African Unity conference chamber--lectured Somali leaders.

"The time has come to move beyond starvation, pain and fear," he said. "The time has come to put aside deadly rivalries. It is time to re-create the Somali state so that it may fulfill its role in the community of nations."

The rare session that began Monday--billed as only an "informal preparatory meeting" by U.N. officials bent on dampening expectations--is to do no more than agree on a date, site and agenda for a future peace conference.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 6, 1993 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Somali warlords--A story in Tuesday's Times incorrectly ascribed allegations of atrocities committed in Kismayu, Somalia, just before U.S. Marines occupied the city. Sources have blamed the mass killings on the forces of Omar Jess, a self-styled Somali National Army colonel.

But the speakers, including African leaders, made it clear that they expected--at the very least--some hard, creative thinking from the Somalis.

Meantime, for Boutros-Ghali, Monday's angry outburst was the third directed at him in recent days as he toured some of the world's hot spots.

Bosnians jeered and shook their fists at him at almost every site where he appeared in Sarajevo on Thursday. In Mogadishu on Sunday, crowds of taunting and rock-throwing Somalis besieged the U.N. headquarters there, trapping his aides inside and preventing him from going there as planned.

The motivation in each case was different and complex. In Monday's protest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian students insisted that Boutros-Ghali's visit amounted to a U.N. endorsement of Eritrean independence in a special referendum on that issue in April.

Most Ethiopian politicians and intellectuals believe that the Eritreans, who have resented domination by Addis Ababa for decades, will vote for independence by an overwhelming margin.

But the students feel that their own government, and outsiders like the United States and the United Nations, are stacking the referendum in favor of secession.

Although the students were denied permission to march toward the site of the Somali peace talks, perhaps 2,000 assembled in mid-morning on the campus of the university. An eyewitness said that the gates of the campus were then closed behind the students.

The protesting students were trying to make up their minds whether to march toward the U.S. Embassy, instead of Africa Hall, when--the eyewitness said--a scuffle broke out and the police charged. With the gates closed, the students had no escape.

Hearing of the violent protest, Boutros-Ghali insisted that he would go on to Asmara, the Eritrean capital, as planned. He is scheduled to spend a few hours there Wednesday en route to his home in Cairo.

At Africa Hall, the U.N.-sponsored peace session brought together most of the prominent Somali leaders, including archenemies Mohammed Farah Aidid and Mohamed Ali Mahdi; their armed marauders have destroyed much of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

The United Nations had invited 14 factions to the session. The delegation from northern Somalia, where there has been much less trouble, came to Addis Ababa but only as "observers," refusing to sit as participants.

Four smaller groups arrived in Addis Ababa, came to Africa Hall and boycotted the opening session, insisting that Boutros-Ghali invite a few, even smaller factions; he refused. Another feared warlord, Mohamed Siad Hirsi, who goes by the nom de guerre "Gen. Morgan," did not appear in Addis Ababa, but his faction was represented by a delegation. Some sources have accused Siad Hirsi's forces of committing last-minute atrocities in Kismayu before U.S. Marine forces arrived there.

At Monday's Somalia conference, Meles Zenawi, the soft-spoken Ethiopian president, used blunt, undiplomatic language in laying responsibility on the Somali leaders.

"You stand now before the Somali people, the international community and history as the principal engineers of the tragedy in Somalia," he told the Somalis at the sessions. "I am saying this not to apportion blame but to underscore the need for you to measure up to the demands of your people, to transcend your clan animosities and to allow the strong patriotic streak in every one of you to flourish.

"I am saying this," he continued, "to convey the message to you, that you must lead the way in the resurrection of Somalia, a country that has collapsed in front of your eyes because of your failure to keep the family quarrel within acceptable limits."

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