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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Change of heart for Somali warlords
Delegates at the conference
The talks have raised hopes of an end to the fighting
Four Somali faction leaders have changed their minds and announced that they will attend the peace talks in Kenya.

The four, who control parts of the capital, Mogadishu, say they will travel to Eldoret later this week.


We will bring all our complaints before the Somalis in the meeting

Somali warlord Mowlid Ma'ani
The BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu says that if the four - Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Osman Ali Atto, Mowlid Ma'ani and Omar Finish - do travel to Kenya, it will become the biggest Somali peace conference for a decade.

In Eldoret, European Union diplomats have told journalists that sanctions were being considered against anyone seen as an obstacle to peace.

These are reported to include travel restrictions, charges of war crimes and the freezing of bank accounts.

U-turn

"We have renounced our earlier positions for the sole interest of the Somalis," warlord Mowlid Ma'ani said.

Delegates in Eldoret
TNG Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah
Hussein Aideed
Muse Sudi Yalahow
Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
Mohammed Dhere
"The items we complained about have not been corrected, but we will bring all our complaints before the Somalis in the meeting," he said.

The faction leaders had argued that the allocation of delegates at the talks was unfair.

A correspondent for the BBC says there is a general perception that Ethiopia is emerging as playing a major role behind the scenes.

The Somali Transitional National Government (TNG) has accused Ethiopia of backing some of the warlords and of trying to overthrow it.

Ethiopia in turn accuses the TNG of being allied to radical Islamist groups.

Last chance?

About 300 delegates are attending the conference, organised by a regional grouping of east African countries, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad).

Warlord Osman Ali Atto
Osman Ali Atto will now attend

In his opening address on Tuesday, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi urged them to "heed the cry of their people" for peace.

The BBC's Joseph Warungu in Eldoret says that the organisers hope to stop the fighting and set up and all-inclusive government.

This is Somalia's 16th attempt to hold peace talks. Previous talks have collapsed and the present conference has already been postponed several times.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Somali warlord Hussein Aideed talking to Nita Bhalla
"We've learnt from our mistakes"
Joseph Warungu on BBC Network Africa
"The hardest part is yet to come"

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16 Oct 02 | Africa
12 Jul 02 | Africa
24 Dec 01 | Africa
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