Somali Officials Hoists Flag, Hail Start of New Era

Posted July 1st, 2011 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Somalia's government says this year's independence celebration marks the start of a more peaceful time for the war-ravaged country.

Top officials took part in a flag-raising ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu early Friday, marking Somalia's 51 years as an independent state.

A spokesman for new Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said this year's ceremony shows the country is becoming less violent. Abdirahman Yarisow said the fact people felt safe to walk though brightly lit streets in the early hours of the morning was proof that the government's fight against the militant group al-Shabab is having an impact.

But some members of the Somali diaspora disagree.

One 21-year-old man tells VOA he knows nothing of “nationhood” and that the only Somalia he has ever known remains mired in violence.

Another man says Somalia's only hope is to embrace leaders who shun violence. He says “you cannot be someone (a leader) by carrying gun.”