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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Somalia talks money runs out
Somali conference venue
Big money has been spent on the talks
By East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins

The Djibouti Government has warned that the original budget for the Somali peace conference it has been hosting since May has already been spent.

It estimates that between $4m and $5m has been spent on the gathering, which aims to restore a central government and end years of civil war in Somalia.

With the end of Somalia's mammoth-sized peace conference already overdue, some hoteliers in Djibouti are beginning to feel impatient.

They have been providing rooms for delegates, but the Djibouti Government, which is picking up the bill, has not paid the hotel owners as regularly as they would have liked.

Djibouti's finance minister, Yasin Elmi, has asked everyone to be patient and says the government is sorting it out.

Help welcome

The peace conference to try to end Somalia's nine-year civil war was scheduled to last from May to July, but both the time frame and the number of delegates attending - now exceeding 2,500 - have expanded.

Hussein Mohammed Aideed
Warlords have shown little sign they want a change
Mr Elmi said Djibouti chose to finance the conference alone so that the delegates would be free from governments trying to push their own agendas.

But he said Djibouti would welcome help from the United Nations and from the Arab League.

Anyone thinking of helping may want to wait until it is clear the conference is not collapsing.

At the moment, several clan groupings are threatening to walk out because they are angry at the way seats to a proposed transitional parliament have been allocated.

Some Djibouti businessmen who have donated food and money are pragmatic about the extension of the conference.

One businessman involved in the lucrative trade of importing khat, the mildly narcotic leaf to Djibouti, says he will continue to contribute until there is a result.

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See also:

17 Nov 99 | Africa
The boring life of a warlord
06 Apr 99 | Africa
Gunning for the money in Somalia
24 Jul 00 | Africa
Somali peace talks 'sabotaged'
24 Jul 00 | Africa
Government-in-exile for Somalia?
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