Technical committees discussing core issues of the Somali conflict should conclude their work this month, Kenya's special envoy for Somalia Elijah Mwangale announced on Tuesday.
This means that the power-sharing phase of peace talks should start early next month, he told a news conference in Nairobi.
Mwangale is chairman of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee that is overseeing Somali peace talks in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret.
The talks, which began on 15 October last year, have been fraught with difficulties, notably over the allocation of delegate seats. Somali leaders, who last week met the new Kenyan foreign minister Kalonzo Masyoka, have accused Mwangale of being dictatorial. Mwangale was appointed by the previous Kenyan government which lost power in the December elections.
Asked if he was about to resign, Mwangale told journalists that "if there was reason for me to resign I would, because I am very principled".
"If I found myself a liability to this whole process, I would be the first one to say maybe somebody else can do it better," he said. However, he stressed that "the real issue in dealing with this process is that there are so many other problems within it: first to get the technical committee as a whole, to get Djibouti and Ethiopia and Kenya, to work as a unified entity".
Mwangale said he had had no indication so far that the new Kenyan government wanted to fire him, and the important thing was to move the peace process forward.
"This is a very difficult process," he told journalists. "To get 100 percent consensus on any issue ... is a very difficult thing to do and there are inherent weaknesses in the whole process."
"So whatever I do, and whatever any other chairman does after I leave - if I do - we'll face the same problems," he added. "But the important thing is that we've got to get this process going."