Thursday, May 15, 2003

SOMALIA: Puntland talks hit snag
NAIROBI, 15 MAY 2003 (IRIN-- Peace talks to end conflict in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have become bogged down over the issue of power-sharing, sources in Bosaso told IRIN on Thursday.

Talks have been under way in Bosaso, the commercial capital, since 10 May, between the Puntland administration of Col Abdullahi Yusuf and "the armed opposition" led by Gen Ade Muse Hirsi. But they have stalled "over the issue of power-sharing and the formation of a new cabinet", the sources said.

Ade Muse is said to have insisted on the removal of certain individuals from the Puntland administration and on the formation of a new cabinet, demands rejected by Abdullahi Yusuf.

"This is the reason why the announcement of a peace agreement - which was to have been made on Wednesday - was delayed," the sources said.

The two sides are also said to have disagreed on the length of a new administration in Puntland, before elections are held.

However, Puntland's acting information minister, Abdishakur Mire Adan, denied that the talks were faltering.

"There are some minor technical difficulties which should be resolved by the end of today [Thursday]," he told IRIN. "The people of Puntland want peace, and neither we, the Puntland administration, nor Ade Muse can deny this. The talks will succeed. We have no choice."

Abdishakur said an official statement on the outcome of the talks "will probably be issued on Sunday".

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