Tuesday, May 27, 2003

SOMALIA: Business community to support all-inclusive government
NAIROBI,27 MAY 2003 (IRIN)-- Members of the Somali business community have said they will support an "all-inclusive" outcome of the peace talks currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya.

Muhammad Jirde Husayn, an executive member of the Dubai-based Somali Business Council, said the business community would support any comprehensive agreement emerging from the talks.

"We will support morally, materially and physically any new government that comes out of Nairobi," he told IRIN.

Jirde is leading a 27-member team to Nairobi, representing a cross-section of the community both inside and outside the country. He said that the group, which comprises members from all Somali clans, had convened "to see how best we can contribute to the reconciliation process".

Jirde said they had met delegates to the conference and its chairman, Kenyan Special Envoy Bethwel Kiplagat. "We have told the delegates to stay the course and conclude the conference successfully," he added.

According to a Somali delegate, the business community's support is crucial to any future government in Somalia.

"The community has the money and military muscle," he said. "If it puts them at the disposal of the government, this will succeed, but without the support of business leaders, getting a government going will be next to impossible."

A Somali economist attending the peace talks added that it made "business and economic sense" for the business community to support the peace process.

Currently, it was business leaders who were providing commodities such as security, electricity and water, "all the things a government is supposed to do".

"This means a lot of overhead costs for businesses, which cut into profit margins," he noted.

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