Somalia: Peace talks stalled

NAIROBI, 3 February (IRIN) - The Somali peace conference underway in the Kenyan town of Eldoret is said to have stalled for lack of a quorum by the regional technical committee which is piloting the proceedings, a source close to the talks told IRIN on Monday.
"Nothing is happening here [Eldoret] today, and nothing has been happening in the last few days," he said.

Of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee members "only the Djibouti delegation is in Eldoret", said the source.

The newly appointed Kenyan special envoy, former Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, who is the chairman of the talks, is reported to be away, and the Ethiopian envoy to the talks, Abdulaziz Ahmad, is said to be in Ethiopia. The IGAD technical committee comprises Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti.

"Everybody is waiting for the technical committee to reconvene and restart negotiations," a Somali delegate told IRIN. Some prominent faction leaders are also absent from Eldoret. They include Mogadishu-based faction leaders Muse Sudi Yalahow, Usman Hasan Ali Ato, Husayn Aydid, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah and Gen Muhammad Sa'id Hirsi Morgan of the Somali Patriotic Movement.

"The IGAD needs to get its act together before the talks lose momentum", a regional analyst told IRIN. "If the talks do not pick up momentum soon, then the best outcome may be to declare them on hold," he warned. The absent leaders, some of whom are in Nairobi, while others are in Somalia, must be brought back to talks, he added.

The talks, which opened on 15 October last year under the auspices of the IGAD, have been fraught with difficulties, notably over the allocation of seats to delegates.

Meanwhile, the court case of faction leader Mawlid Ma'ane was mentioned on Monday. Mawlid Ma'ane and two of his supporters are facing charges related to an attack on a prominent member of civil society, Prof Muhammad Abdi Gandhi, last week.


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