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Djibouti Conference

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Peace conference tackles status of Mogadishu

Somali delegates in Arta, Djibouti, formed committees on Wednesday to discuss key issues related to the political crisis in Somalia, such as the status of Mogadishu and Somaliland, diplomatic sources told IRIN.

After holding a number of plenary sessions this week, Somali delegations split into committees to discuss land; the special status of the Somali capital Mogadishu; disarmament and arms control; and the question of the self-declared state of Somaliland.

Each committee is composed of 30 members and will report back to a plenary session at the weekend, with the aim of putting forward specific proposals. The conference is "moving towards establishing a provisional government possibly next week", the source said.

Over a thousand Somalis are present in Arta, Djibouti, where the Somali National Peace Conference is being held. Representation is said to be drawn from all clans in Somalia.

Somaliland has rejected the conference, but there is some clan representation from the self-declared independent republic.

Although the administration of 'President' Mohamed Ibrahim Egal's has boycotted the process, sources close to the conference said some of his supporters - as well as some of the Somaliland opposition - are present.

The Governor of Sool, northern Somalia, has reportedly resigned from the Somaliland administration in order to attend.

The administration in the autonomous state of Puntland has also issued a number of strong statements rejecting the conference, saying it will lead to further conflict.

Puntland's erstwhile 'Minister of the Interior', Hassan Abshire - rival to 'President' Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed - has been elected chairman of the conference. He has since been sacked by Yusuf.

Sources at Arta said one of the attending elders had returned to Puntland to talk to Yusuf about the ongoing peace process in Djibouti.

"The atmosphere is one of accommodation rather than confrontation, which is why committees are now debating these issues, including Somaliland", said one diplomat at the conference.

The Djibouti government, which initiated the process, is "under great pressure financially" as the host of the conference, sources in Djibouti told IRIN. More goats, fish and fruit were donated by Djibouti businessmen yesterday.

The Djibouti government has made it clear, said the source, that it "cannot carry on supporting over a thousand representatives" on its own. The UN Security Council has invited donors to back the conference.

 

 


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