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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 15:40 GMT
Somali peace talks bounty
Somali peace delegates
The delegates are spending much-needed money
For more than three months, the residents of Eldoret, in western Kenya, have been host to more than 1,000 Somali delegates attending the ongoing peace talks.

The delegates include warlords, politicians, intellectuals, elders and representatives of civil society from Somalia or living outside the country.

Factional differences have hindered the talks, but for Eldoret's business people and hotel owners, business is booming.

Smokers

"Things are actually doing very well, this is a windfall business," Eric Ochoo, operations manager of the Sirikwa Hotel says.

"The turnover is good, it has been 100% occupancy for the last three months."

But he says that the rooms where the delegates have been staying will need redecorating.

"The rooms have been messed up. Maybe 60% of the Somali delegates are smokers - even the non-smoking floor has been tampered with.

"After their departure, we will actually need to make some service so we can bring the rooms back to the normal status."

"The Somali delegates - some are good, and some are not so good," he says.

Weddings

The BBC's Wanyama Chebusiri met many Somali delegates at a discotheque in Eldoret. They say they are enjoying their stay.

"The climate is quite OK, people are very hospitable, they welcome us very nicely," one of the customers, Abdullahi Mohammed, from Mogadishu, says.

But most Somalis are Muslims, and doesn't Islam forbid them to go to bars and discos, our correspondent asked?

Kenyan taxi
The taxi trade is faring well in Eldoret

"Yes... but these people came from all over the world - they came from Australia or America, so most of them are westernised."

The delegates' busy social life in Eldoret has also led to a number of marriages with local women.

"It is not the first time. Kenyans and Somalis are already married, they have good relations," Mr Mohammed says.

Others in Eldoret hope the Somali guests will stay as long as possible, for financial reasons.

"It has really increased my business," says Morris Abuto, a taxi driver.

"If they go, our business will go down."


Politics

Terrorist haven?

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