Friday, May 09, 2003

SOMALIA: Second phase of peace talks to conclude next week
NAIROBI, 9 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The organisers of Somali peace talks in Kenya say a plenary session will start next week to conclude the second phase of the conference.

A spokesman told IRIN that the recommendations of six technical committees would be submitted to the plenary for discussion.

However, wrangling continued on Thursday over proposals contained in the reports, and especially over the controversial issue of a federal charter. A harmonisation committee is supposed to be pulling the various reports together, although faction leaders have opposed this committee saying it is made up of "outsiders".

A Somali source told IRIN that the leaders' objection is "another attempt to take control of the talks". "They basically want everything to originate from them, before it is submitted to the plenary for discussion," he said.

Meanwhile, the issue of delegate seats to the plenary continues to be controversial. Earlier this week, conference organisers tried to evict 175 would-be delegates from the conference site, saying donors would no longer pay their expenses.

The organisers, mandated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had previously given the 175 notice to leave, saying they were not official delegates.

Witnesses told IRIN that armed police stood by, while personnel of the conference venue dragged mattresses and possessions from rooms. However, the 175 have maintained their protests and have not yet left the conference.


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