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Heavyweight Somali clan joins peace talks in Djibouti


A 50-strong delegation from the Rahanwein clan that controls much of southern Somalia has arrived in Djibouti for talks aimed at ending nearly a decade of civil war, Radio Djibouti said Friday.

The delegation, which arrived late on Thursday, includes clan chiefs and a representative of the Rahanwien Resistance Army (RRA), a heavyweight among the militias who have carved Somalia into fiefdoms since 1991.

The talks, being held on the basis of a peace plan drawn up by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, began in Arta, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Djibouti city, on Tuesday.

The conference is intended as a first step towards reestablishing a parliament and government structures which have not been in place since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Guelleh's initiative, the 13th such attempt to restore a semblance of normality to Somalia, has received strong support from the international community but been rejected outright by most of the country's warlords.

Unlike previous peace bids, the Djibouti leader's plan hinges partly on talks among representatives of all kinds of civilian and professional groups in the country, rather than focussing on the clan leaders and their militias.

Until Friday, only one warlord had attended the conference, along with some 400 civilian Somalis.



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