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 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 11:50 GMT
'Fistfight' at Somali peace talks
Somali peace delegates
The peace talks have degenerated into a fist fight
A Somali professor says that his arm was broken by thugs hired by warlords at the ongoing peace talks in the Kenyan town of Eldoret.

Professor Mohammed Abdi Gandhi told the BBC that he was beaten up after he and other representatives of civil society, including women, stormed a meeting of warlords.

They cannot use guns in Kenya to silence us now, so they resort to sending thugs brought in from Somalia instead

Maryan Husayn Awreye
They were arguing about how many delegates each side should have when the talks attempt to draw up a new constitution and end 12 years of anarchy in Somalia.

Three months of talks have produced an agreement to stop fighting while discussions continue but have been bogged down in arguments about numbers.

Over 1,000 delegates turned up when the talks opened but donors have said they will only continue to pay the hotel bills for the 300 they originally invited.

'Down with warlords'

The BBC's Hassan Barise in Nairobi says that civil society groups have now agreed to have 16 delegates, compared to 284 for the warlords.

This would enable the warlords to determine the outcome of any talks, provided they can agree amongst themselves.

Kenyan taxi
Taxi operators are the only winners from the peace talks

He says that about 50 people burst into the meeting, chanting "Down with warlords".

The United Nations' Irin news agency reports that during the confrontation, there was a fist fight between warlord Mawlid Maane and Id Badal from the civil society.

Mr Maane and four of his supporters were subsequently arrested and spent the night in prison, Irin reports.

Mr Ghandi says that afterwards, he was followed and assaulted by three men.

"This is just another manifestation of the faction leaders' efforts to sideline and marginalise civil society," Maryan Husayn Awreye, a civil society member, told Irin.

"They cannot use guns in Kenya to silence us now, so they resort to sending thugs brought in from Somalia instead." and beaten up.


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14 Jan 03 | Africa
27 Oct 02 | Africa
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16 Oct 02 | Africa
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