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Somali factions to make new reconciliation attempts


The latest Somalian national reconciliation conference starts Tuesday in Djibouti, but only one of the warlords who control the capital Mogadishu will be present.

The other faction leaders have rejected the peace plan put forward by Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Ali Mahdi Mohamed, who controls northern Mogadishu, arrived in Djibouti late Sunday for the conference that was originally scheduled for April 20, according to Radio Djibouti.
After his arrival, Ali Mahdi and his delegation went straight to Arta, a residential complex 30 kilometres south of the capital where a huge marquee has been erected near 50 villas put at the disposal of the delegations.

The former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, Abdurahman Ahmed Ali is also in Djibouti, but Somaliland authorities have rejected the Djiboutian initiative.

Somaliland, in northwest Somalia, was formed in 1991 when its leaders split from Somalia.

The leaders of Puntland (northeast) which also calls itself independent have also rejected Guelleh's plan.

The Djibouti president will open the conference Tuesday, highlighting the participation of representatives of civil society. Guelleh's peace plan raises the prospect of sanctions against faction leaders if "they don't adopt a realistic attitude and open themselves up to dialogue".

Such sanctions would include restrictions on foreign travel, seizing of bank accounts, interuption of international aid and eventually legal proceedings for crimes against humanity. Many Djibouti officials are optimistic that important decisions will be made at this conference.

Influential people from within Somalia will be joined by intellectuals and business people from the Somalian diaspora.

Also present will be a number of career diplomats from the previous regime of Mohamed Siad Barre, who was toppled in 1991, who will be there as "facilitators".

This is the 13th Somali national reconciliation conference organised by the international community since the fall of Siad Barre.

It aims to establish a transition parliament that would organise elections for a president and prime minister for Somalia in two years. Other countries have been strongly supportive of the Somalian peace intiative.


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