leaders who have opposed the Somali peace process are willing to hold talks with
the man selected to be the country's first president in 10 years, a faction leader
Mohamed Aidid met newly selected President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan on Sept. 21
in the Libyan town of Sirta and the two had agreed in principle to ``solve the
Somali problem through peaceful means.'' Hassan and a 245-member Parliament were
elected in August by a peace conference held in Arta, a small town in neighboring
contrast to the 12 previous attempts to achieve peace in Somalia, all participants
in the Arta conference, hosted by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh, were
invited as individuals, not as faction leaders or politicians. A number of faction
leaders, including Aidid, who control large militias in Somalia, refused to attend
the process. But Aidid, head of the Somali National Alliance, said Sunday that
he and other faction leaders are now willing to negotiate with the new government.
``We have agreed
in principle to solve the Somali problem through peaceful means, by talking,''
Aidid told The Associated Press in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. ``I was willing
to do this for my people for the sake of preventing any further war.'' He did
not say when the talks would take place, but said they could include the leaders
of the regions of Somaliland and Puntland, President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal and
Col. Abdullahi Yussuf, respectively. Both have opposed the Arta conference.
Aidid, based in southern Mogadishu has spent the last month meeting the leaders
of Libya, Kenya and Yemen. His meeting with Hassan was arranged by Libyan President
Somali National Alliance is a splinter group of the United Somali Congress formed
in 1989 by Aidid's late father, Mohamed Farah Aidid, and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, to
oust dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Siad Barre's fall, Somalia has had no central government and has been synonymous
with chaos and violence.
election of the president and assembly has created optimism throughout Somalia
that stability could return. The biggest threat to the process has been the reaction
of the faction leaders in Mogadishu. Aidid said he would not accept the new assembly
because he says it is dominated by former members of Siad Barre's regime and Islamic
make a government come back to the country there are two ways. One, militarily
which is not acceptable, the other is through consensus. This cannot be done by
one group or fundamentalism,'' he said.
problem is we need to have a comprehensive constitution and transitional charter
which we can all agree.'' Hassan made a brief, triumphant visit to Mogadishu in
August, but he has not returned since.