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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Somali leader rejects peace talks
Delegates at the conference
Some delegates were optimistic of an end to the war
Somali President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan has said the ongoing peace conference in Kenya will not end the fighting in Somalia.

The talks on the future of Somalia, which are being held in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, are reported to be deadlocked.


Some neighbouring countries diverted the whole course of the conference to dividing Somalia instead of pacifying it

President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
Most of Somalia's key faction leaders, often called warlords, have gone to the talks, but Mr Salat, head of the Transitional National Government (TNG), has refused to go unless he is accorded the status of a head of state, rather than a faction leader.

The TNG was set up in 2000 but only controls parts of the capital, Mogadishu, with the rest of the country divided up between rival warlords.

"I am not optimistic the conference would help the Somali peace process," Mr Salat said.

No serious discussions have yet taken place, with some warlords insisting that Mr Salat attend in person.

He is represented by TNG Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah. A BBC correspondent in Eldoret says that, in spite of meetings on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, no agreement could be reached. He says the future of the conference is looking bleak

Country divided

Mr Salat has accused the organisers of trying to split up Somalia.

Delegates in Eldoret
TNG Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah
Muse Sudi Yalahow
Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed

He said that the donors organising the conference had not put any pressure on the leaders of the self-declared republic of Somaliland to go to Eldoret.

In contrast, European diplomats have threatened sanctions, such as a travel ban and an assets freeze on any warlords who refused to participate in Somalia's 14th round of peace talks.

"Some neighbouring countries diverted the whole course of the conference to dividing Somalia instead of pacifying it," Mr Salat told journalists in Mogadishu.

He is believed to be referring to Ethiopia, which accuses Mr Salat of being linked to Islamic fundamentalists.

The organisers are hoping that the conference would end 11 years of brutal civil war and anarchy in Somalia, following the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.

The BBC's Andrew Harding says the plan is for the delegates first to work out a framework for a new system of government - probably one which devolves most power to regional structures.


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