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Djibouti Conference

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IRIN's Latest Somalia Update, 10 July

SOMALIA: Ongoing fighting displaces civilians

Fighting among rival clans in Desta village, southern Somalia, has caused movement of displaced people to Afgoi, about 30 km outside Mogadishu.

Garre clan elder Ahmed Abdulle told AFP by radio communication on Monday that occasional gunfire could still be heard in and around Desta, which is about 50 km south of Mogadishu.

At least 11 people were killed and 21 wounded in fighting within the Garre sub-clans, AFP reported.

According to the reports, the conflict was triggered by a dispute within the Garre clan over a banditry incident involving the killing of a sub-clan member, whose family retaliated by killing a member of a rival sub clan.

Ahmed Abdulle said the warring factions used heavy machineguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers before the fighting subsided.

Meanwhile, at least seven people were killed in the southern port of Kismayo on Saturday, news agencies said. "Scores" were injured and eight killed in a battle over khat, a mild narcotic leaf, AFP reported.

The fighting started at Kismayo airport when the khat truck into Kismayo town was ambushed by a rival militia group, triggering several hours of shooting. According to Reuters, six of the dead were militia members from both sides, and a woman bystander.

Peace was reportedly re-established on Sunday after elders intervened to mediate between rival clans.

SOMALIA: Mogadishu suffers new round of fighting

In Mogadishu, the Somali newspaper 'Qaran' reported seven people killed and five wounded in a gunbattle in Madina District, south-western Mogadishu, which started on Friday afternoon.

Fierce fighting broke out between residents and militiamen loyal to faction leader Hussein Mohamed Aideed, said the report. Local people had refused to pay taxes imposed by the faction leader.

According to the report, militiamen loyal to another faction leader, Musa Sude Yalahow, joined with civilians in the fight against Aideed's militia. Both sides used light and heavy weapons, and continued to battle until midnight Friday.

UN sources confirmed to IRIN the reported battle in Mogadishu over the weekend, as well as another one involving a minor faction leader in north Mogadishu, Ibrahim Rageh, and another in southern Mogadishu over a roadblock.

Although fighting in the capital is "mainly local", said the source, the Somali Peace Conference in Djibouti "has an impact as who represents who is a critical issue".

"Smaller militia leaders are opportunistically manoeuvring around the sensitive question of representation and power," the source added.

SOMALIA: Faction leader joins Djibouti talks

Colonel Omar Jess, an Ogadeni faction leader in southern Somalia, has joined the Somali Peace Conference in Arta, Djibouti, a regional journalist told IRIN on Monday.

Jess was loudly applauded last Thursday, when he addressed the conference, saying he wanted to make clear his intention to participate fully in the Djibouti process with the "full knowledge and consent" of his allies.

He said although he had initially refused to attend the conference, he no longer had reservations and said that he hoped other faction leaders would come to Djibouti.

The US-based "Bay Centre for Conflict Prevention", a diaspora group, said in a statement that it was "shocking" that Jess was welcomed to the conference as he was "actively involved in committing grave war crimes and human rights abuses".

It said Jess had ordered the killing of 114 innocent civilians by his army in the first week of November 1992 in Kismayo, southern Somalia, which had been witnessed and condemned by Somalis and internationals.

The Bay Centre for Conflict Prevention said it "strongly condemns the decision of the Djibouti government to assist and get the support of the warlords and war criminals for the Djibouti-sponsored peace conference" and that investigations should be launched against Somali war criminals so that they could be brought to justice.

The Somaliland administration has also condemned the participation of war criminals in the Djibouti conference, and has rejected the conference on the basis that self-declared Somaliland has established a peaceful and successful government.

SOMALIA: Islamic leader critical of transitional charter

The chairman of the main Islamic court in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aways, has criticised the human rights clauses in the new transitional charter being drafted at the Djibouti talks.

In remarks monitored by the BBC from the daily 'Qaran' web site, Sheikh Hasan said the charter was detrimental to the teachings of Islam because it "empowered people and guaranteed respect for human rights".

"Respect for human rights is anti-Islamic because it does not allow for the amputation of arms, legs, and other punishments against criminals," he was quoted as saying.

Asked how he would react if the charter was adopted, the cleric reportedly said that under such circumstances Islam sanctioned the declaration of holy war and that the necessary steps would be taken in line with the teachings of Islam.

DJIBOUTI: OAU pledges support for peace process

Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim pledged "strong" support for the Somali peace process, initiated by the regional body Inter-Governmental Agency on Development (IGAD).

PANA news agency quoted him as telling journalists at the OAU summit in Lome, Togo:
"I believe that while the peace conference is underway, it will be necessary for all Somali factions to observe some moments of peace and give the conference a chance to bring normality back to Somalia."

He also called on the international humanitarian community to continue providing much-needed relief for the victims of hunger and recent floods in Somalia.



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