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Somali warlord exits peace talks

One of the main arlords controlling a strategic port city in Somalia has left a conference in Djibouti aimed at restoring a government to his country, a senior official said on Monday.

"It is true that he has left," conference chairman Hassan Abshir Farah told journalists, referring to warlord "Colonel" Ahmed Omar Jess from the city of Kismayo.

"He thought the conference offered little to warlords, there was no reason for him to stay.

But he wasn't angry and still supports our work," said Farah. Jess was one of just a few warlords who was attending the reconciliation conference, sponsored by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh.

The conference has concentrated on Somalia's civil society rather than on the warlords who have controlled patches of the country since the 1991 fall of president Mohamed Siad Barre.

Sources close to the talks said Jess left because fellow members in his Darod clan refused to reserve part of the clan's quota of seats in the transitional parliament for some of his gunmen.

The gunmen belong to the Ogaden sub-clan, the sources said. Another clan, the Rahanwein, has put off submitting its own list of parliamentary nominees because warlord Hassan Mohamed Nur, better known as Shatigudud, who leads the Rahanwein Resistance Army, asked for some seats for his men, according to the same source.

"Warlords are welcome, but nobody can offer them particular posts because it is up to the conference to decide," explained Abshir. Once the parliament has been formed, this body will then nominate a transitional president.

On Monday morning, a group of minority clans handed in their list of nominees to the organisers of the talks. Other groups have either nearly completed the task or are still negotiating.

Each major clan has a quota of 44 legislators while the minorities and the women's group gets 29 and 25 seats respectively



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