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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

SOMALIA: Kenya appoints new special envoy for peace talks

NAIROBI, 20 January 2003 (IRIN) - The newly-elected government of Kenya has appointed a new special envoy for the Somali peace talks, a Kenyan foreign ministry official told IRIN on Monday.

The appointment of retired Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, to replace Elijah Mwangale, was officially announced on Saturday. "Ambassador Kiplagat met with Mr Mwangale on Sunday to be briefed on the status of the peace talks," the official told IRIN.

Mwangale's removal "was not unexpected", a regional analyst involved in the talks told IRIN.

"He was under increasing pressure in recent weeks following complaints by some of the Somali delegates, who last week met the new Kenyan foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka, and accused Mwangale of being dictatorial," said the analyst.

Mwangale told a press conference last week that “if I found myself a liability to this whole process, I would be the first one to say maybe somebody else can do it better".

The appointment of Kiplagat, a career diplomat and former permanent secretary in the foreign ministry, was welcomed by both Somalis and non-Somalis involved in the Eldoret talks.

"He is a prominent figure in conflict resolution in the sub-region, who is well versed in the political issues which affect our region," a regional diplomat told IRIN. "He is an intellectual of high calibre."

A Somali delegate in Eldoret told IRIN that Kiplagat's appointment "will re-energise the peace talks and give it a new life".

The Kenyan official said Kiplagat was expected to arrive in Eldoret "today or tomorrow".

The talks, which began on 15 October last year under the auspices of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have been fraught with difficulties, notably over the allocation of delegate's seats.

Mwangale was appointed by the previous Kenyan government which lost power in the December 2002 elections.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict


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