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Djibouti Calls for Provisional Government in Somalia


Djibouti's president said on Monday that Somali delegates attending a reconciliation conference in his country should try to set up a provisional government to bring peace to the war-torn state.

Ismail Omar Guelleh, on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, told a news conference that unlike previous Somali peace meetings, the current conference stood a good chance of success because warlords seen as responsible for the country's destruction were not attending the meeting.

"There must be a temporary, provisional central government to secure the country and bring about stability," Guelleh said.

"This is the objective (of the conference)," he added. Guelleh last week opened the talks at the hillside resort of Arta, some 40 kms (25 miles) south of the capital Djibouti, with the participation of about 300 traditional and community leaders from around the country.

Somalia has been without a central government since former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991 and the power vacuum has been filled by clan-based militia leaders fighting to expand their personal fiefdoms.

The warlords have since signed numerous peace deals, but all have failed either because some factions were excluded from the start or because signatories resumed fighting almost as soon as the ink had dried.

"Our initiative, which banks on Somalia's civil society and tribal leaders, came after warlords failed in 12 meetings to bring the situation in the country under control," Guelleh said.

He said a provisional Somali government with a provisional parliament recognised and backed by the international community could incorporate the warlords, either by joining it directly or through relatives who would represent them.

"In our assessment, if there was a provisional government and provisional parliament supported by the international community, the warlords -- who belong to the tribes -- can join the parliament or have relatives in the government or parliament," Guelleh said.

He said Somali refugees in Djibouti made up around 20 percent of the country's 600,000 people. "Since ten years, we are living with Somali refugees who live in our country.

Ours is a small country with limited resources and the burden is quite heavy," he complained. "But the biggest sufferers are those in Somalia," he added.



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