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Djibouti Conference

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Conference stage of Djibouti peace talks opens

The Somalia National Peace Conference opened on Thursday after completing its consultative phase.

Since early May clan elders have been meeting to chose lists of delegates for the conference phase of the peace process, which is taking place in Arta, some 35 km south of the capital Djibouti.

The first working session was expected to begin at 03:00 p.m. (12:00 GMT). At the closing session of the elders meetings on 13 June, a "General Agreement" was formally approved.

It consisted of six points:

1. Peace and reconciliation should be reached among all clans in general and specifically among those with ongoing conflict.

2. The Somali people should form an all-inclusive Somali government

3. The unity of Somalia is sacrosanct.

4. All assets, fixed or non-fixed, national or private, confiscated during thecivil war, should be returned to their rightful owners in a process to be overseen by the newly-formed government.

5. Human rights should be respected and protected.

6. The international community is requested to assist the Somali peace process taking place at Arta, Republic of Djibouti, and to recognise the government that will be formed.

Sources close to the meeting told IRIN that the conference was expected to focus on decentralised structures of government.

Other issues will be the special status of Mogadishu, elections, and the choosing of a cabinet, parliament and government leadership.

Representatives of all clans are reported to be present at the peace process although some faction leaders and autonomous administrations have opposed it.

A regional analyst told IRIN Somalis in the self-declared state of Somaliland were "not totally united against the process although a major portion is opposed to it".

The UN Security Council has requested member states to provide assistance for the conference, which is increasingly likely to be time-constrained by financial considerations.

The cost of a process involving some 1,000 observers, delegates and elders has so far been borne overwhelmingly by the Djibouti government.



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