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Djibouti Conference

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SOMALIA: Arbitration over clan deadlock

In an attempt to break the deadlock over the apportionment of clan-based parliamentary seats, Somalis at the Djibouti-hosted peace talks have set up arbitration groups, according to sources close to the conference.

The Somali National Peace Conference - already given two revised finishing dates - is far behind its original schedule because of the prolonged deadlock.

The 225 seats on the proposed Transitional National Assembly have been divided up between major clans, but sub-clans are struggling to divide up their quota. Only one group, "the minorities", have succeeded in handing in a list of deputies, AFP reported.

The four main clans - the Darod, the Hawiye, the Rahanwein and the Dir - are still to submit a list of names.

The Rahanwein is struggling with a demand from faction leader Hassan Mohamed Nur ("Shatigudud") to give a special quota of seats to his Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), AFP reported from Djibouti.

SOMALIA: Hostage negotiations "complicated"

The non-governmental organisation Action Contre la Faim (ACF) said on Monday that complex negotiations were ongoing for the release of two staff members kidnapped in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A statement said "numerous rumours, often unfounded, were circulating in Mogadishu about the hostage-taking" of Francoise Deutsch (46) and Jonathan Ward (31).

The organisation said it had decided to limit public information to avoid making "already complex negotiations more difficult", and to assure its workers' safety.

The agency remained extremely active in its efforts to secure the rapid release of its staff members, without preconditions, the statement said.

The two aid workers were seized from their compound early on Wednesday 26 July by armed militia in southern Mogadishu. Monetary demands have not been made public.

Faction leaders in the area have distanced themselves from the kidnapping, and there have been public demonstrations against the gunmen



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