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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 16:07 GMT
Trouble with Somali talks
By Yusuf Garaad Omar
Editor, BBC Somali section

Somalia militia
Somalia has been wracked by 12 years of war
The conflict in Somalia has seen more than a dozen peace talks come and go, some have even ended in scuffles.

The current talks, being held in Kenya, are the 14th to date and have already lasted a year. So far there has been no result.

A section of Somalis say the process is not home-grown but being imposed on the them.

On Tuesday, the Somali National Salvation Council, which is an alliance of 12 factions formed recently, vowed to boycott any further talks in Nairobi.

The Vice Chairman of the council, Barre Hirale, said instead, a reconciliation conference would be held inside Somalia.

The regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is brokering the Somali peace process, resolved at its recent summit in Kampala to push forward the Somali peace talks.

Special US envoy

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya during his recent meeting with the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is reported to have persuaded the US to play a greater role in the Somali reconciliation process. Kenya is the current chair of IGAD.

Somali political analysts say if the US appointed a special envoy to oversee the process, the ongoing talks are likely to pick up and make great progress.

President Salat Hassan of Somalia
Mr Hassan only controls small areas of Somalia

According to the Kenyan head of the technical committee which runs the talks, Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, the talks have so far cost $7m provided by the European Union, individual EU member states and the Arab League.

The Nairobi-led Somali peace talks can be credited for bringing together all Somali political groups including armed ones.

Since October last year, the peace talks, which were expected to end two months ago, have made little headway. The main stumbling block has been over the number of members of parliament to be chosen by each group.

Sanctions

The mandate of the three-year old Transitional National Government (TNG) expired on last August and the leader, Abdikassim Salat Hassan announced that his government would not stand down until a new government and parliament were formed.

Neighbouring countries have also been blamed for the continued troubles in Somalia.

The Djibouti Government has never concealed its support for the TNG.

On the other hand it is no great secret that Ethiopia supports all the political groups that oppose the transitional government.

Somali observers blame the lack of sanctions or other forms of punishment against groups who violate agreements, thereby frustrating efforts to bring a semblance of law and order to a country that has been without an internationally-recognised government for more than 12 years.




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Somalia's powerbrokers
08 Jan 02  |  Africa
Somalis agree government
05 Jul 03  |  Africa


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