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Djibouti Conference

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SOMALIA: National Assembly holds session

The Somali Transitional National Assembly (TNA) held its first meeting in Djibouti on Monday, chaired by General Mohamed Abshire Muse.

Under the new Somalia Charter, the TNA is to be chaired by the eldest member of the parliament until an assembly speaker is successfully elected, sources in Djibouti told IRIN. General Abshire, a 74 year-old former police chief from northeast Somalia, is a factional rival of Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, leader of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, who has rejected the process.

Nominated members to the TNA are still being sworn in at the Djibouti-hosted Somali National Peace Talks, held in Arta, about 30 km from Djibouti city. Many of the nominated members are from the huge Somali diaspora, and have been called to Djibouti, sources close to the conference said.

The first task of the assembly is to begin drawing up an agenda and deal with the process of electing its officers, TNA member Hussein Iman told IRIN from Djibouti. Once this process has been completed, the TNA will tackle the election of a president.

"That's when the real business of power-sharing starts, and it will be tough", one delegate told IRIN.

Disputes continue over the clan-based allocation of seats. Within the main Darod clan, the sub-clans of Lelkase (two seats), Warsangali (three seats) and Dashiiashle (one seat) have refused to accept their share.

The Murusade sub-clan of the main Hawiye group has also refused to accept an allocation of four seats, conference sources told IRIN.

SOMALIA: Military leader causes discontent

A contingent of 150 delegates from the main Digil-Mirifle clan has threatened to leave the talks, sources at the conference told IRIN.

The 150 delegates support a list submitted by Abdullahi Deerow, secretary-general of the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), which was rejected in favour of a list handed in by the RRA military leader, Hassan Mohamed Nur "Shatigadud".

The RRA control the Bay and Bakool region, including Baidoa, chosen by the conference as the temporary capital for the newly-elected transitional authority.

Deerow's list represented "the intelligentsia" and had a more equal distribution of Digil and Mirifle sub-clans, delegates at the conference told IRIN. Deroow was also willing to negotiate power-sharing with another main clan, the Hawiye, diplomatic sources said.

However, accepting "Shatigudud's" list was vital to the success of the conference, taking into consideration the territory controlled by his militia, the sources added.

"Shatigudud" is also known to be backed by the Ethiopian government, which last week put pressure on Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, leader of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, to end his boycott of the talks.

SOMALIA: Peace talks affect exchange rate

The inauguration of a new Somali parliament has had a favourable effect on the rate of the shilling in Mogadishu.

On Sunday, when the newly elected Transitional National Assembly was sworn in, the dollar opened at 9,600 shillings and it closed at the end of the day at 8,200 shillings. By Tuesday, the shilling was exchanging at 9,000 to the dollar, Professor Mohamed Ali Abukar, a UNDP Mogadishu-based economist, told IRIN.

According to Professor Abukar, the exchange rate in Mogadishu is determined mainly by supply and demand but has recently been affected by the progress of peace talks in Djibouti.

"At times the market operates exactly like Wall Street and forecasts political events that may affect the market, like the Djibouti conference," Professor Abukar said. Whenever there is some progress in the talks, the dollar loses ground, he said.

"Due to the fluctuations of the money markets, business people wait for a few days to watch the trend of the exchange rate before the prices of goods are adjusted accordingly."

Other events that affect the Mogadishu exchange rate are large amounts of remittance money from the Somali diaspora, which tend to come into the market at the end of the month, he added.


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