Somalia: Faction leaders want Kenya to run peace talks alone

NAIROBI, 24 February (IRIN) - Faction leaders attending the Somali peace talks in Kenya have condemned the slow pace of the conference and accused Somalia's neighbours - the so-called frontline states - of working for their own interests.
A statement, signed by 11 faction leaders, blamed "continuous contradictions, differences and misunderstandings" between the three frontline states - Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia - for the "very slow progress of the process".

The frontline states, the statement said, were "contesting for their own interests in Somalia, as well as [for] the existing political differences of those countries".

"Such an attitude shows that there is a deliberate attempt to fulfill a hidden unknown political agenda with the objective to wreck the reconciliation process and consequently blame the Somalis," it claimed.

To this end, the leaders said that Kenya, as the host nation, should have sole responsibility for conducting the process "without any interference of the Ethiopian and Djibouti governments".

The statement also said that the allocation of delegates' seats was still mired by "doubt and confusion" and called for the immediate formation of an "Arbitration Committee" among the Somali clans.

The statement further condemned moving the venue of the talks from the western town of Eldoret to the Nairobi suburb of Mbagathi. The new venue, it said, lacked essential facilities and was not suitable for hosting important events.

Signatories of the statement include Abdirizak Isak Bihi, Barre Aden Shire, Jama Ali Jama, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Aden Abdullahi Nur, Osman Hassan Ali (Atto), Musse Sudi Yalahow, Omar Mohamoud Mohamed, Mowlid Ma'ane Mohamoud, Ahmed Omar Jess and Abdullahi Ga'al Abdi.

The statement came as one delegation - the Kismayo-based Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) - walked out of the talks on Sunday reportedly because "Ethiopia's involvement is too much", according to a JVA spokesman, quoted by the Associated Press.


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