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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 12:01 GMT
Somali warlord charged over fight
Somali peace delegates
The delegates say they have got used to their new life in Eldoret
Four delegates to the Somali peace talks in Kenya have been charged with assault on a professor.

The four, including warlord Mawlid Maane, are alleged to have assaulted Professor Mohamed Gandi earlier this week when he suggested the talks be moved to Nairobi or Thika, near the Kenyan capital, by 1 February.

They have been released on bail.

Hundreds of Somali delegates have been attending the talks in the town of Eldoret for more than three months to try to put an end to the factional fighting in Somalia.

The country has lacked a central government since the overthrow of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Professor Gandi had his hand broken in the assault on Monday, after he supported the transfer of the talks.

He and some 50 other members of civil society had broken up a meeting of Somali warlords, chanting "Down with warlords".

Hotel bills

As well as the issue of moving the talks, warlords and civil society representatives are 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.

Kenyan taxi
The taxi trade is faring well in Eldoret

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.

Police chief Joseph Kiget said the professor was receiving treatment at an Eldoret hospital.

While the warlords are opposed to switching the talks, hoteliers and suppliers of other services to the delegates also fear they will lose a lot of business should the talks be shifted to Nairobi, according to the Daily Nation newspaper.

Meanwhile, the talks are continuing, with the foreign ministers of Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the ailing peace process in Eldoret.

This is Somalia's 16th attempt to hold peace talks.


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28 Jan 03 | Africa
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