Somalia

Somalia: Kenyan foreign minister, new mediator arrive in Eldoret

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NAIROBI, 22 January (IRIN) - Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka and the newly-appointed special envoy to Somalia, Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, have met Somali delegates gathered in the Kenyan town of Eldoret for peace talks.
"The minister wants to meet the delegates, get acquainted with the issues, and introduce the new envoy," a Kenyan foreign ministry official told IRIN on Wednesday.

The minister was also expected to express the new government's commitment to the Somali peace process, he added. The appointment of retired Ambassador Kiplagat to replace Elijah Mwangale was officially announced last week.

The talks, which started on 15 October under the auspices of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, have been stalled over wrangles about the number of participants and the allocation of seats. Two weeks ago, some Somali leaders who met with Musyoka, accused Mwangale of being dictatorial, and asked the Kenyan government to intercede to save the talks from collapse.

A source in Eldoret told IRIN that a number of Somali delegates had told the Kenyan team that the self-declared republic of Somaliland, northwestern Somalia, should be brought into the process.

Col Abdullahi Yusuf, the president of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, had reportedly said that "if the administration in Somaliland refuses to participate, then the people should be invited".

Somaliland has consistently maintained that the peace talks did not have anything to do with it, since it was a "sovereign state with de facto recognition".

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but has not received any international recognition.

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