UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: Ethiopia says Djibouti pullout will have no impact
NAIROBI, 29 September 2003 (IRIN) - Djibouti has pulled out of the Somali peace talks saying the technical committee, which is meant to steer the conference, is no longer neutral.
The technical committee of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) grouping - which is mediating the talks - is made up of Somalia's neighbours: Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Ismail Goulal Boudine, Djibouti's ambassador to the Somali peace talks which have been underway in Kenya since October 2002, told IRIN on Monday it was "very clear" that the peace process had "deviated from its original objectives".
The technical committee was biased, he said, accusing the committee itself of "derailing" the peace process.
And the conference itself was no longer an all-inclusive forum and could therefore not decide on crucial issues such as power-sharing and the creation of a broad-based government for the war-ravaged country.
"The process as it is will not yield positive results for Somalis," he told IRIN. "We will not be party to further fighting and bloodshed in Somalia."
"If the situation changes we can come back. At the moment we are awaiting a response from the Kenyan authorities or the international community," he added.
But his Ethiopian counterpart, Ambassador Abdulaziz Ahmed told IRIN he did not understand why Djibouti had withdrawn from the process.
He noted that Djibouti had pulled out on previous occasions and had then returned to the talks.
"We are supposed to work together," he stated. "But it really doesn't matter who pulls out of the technical committee at this stage. We have entered the phase of power-sharing, and the process is in the hands of the Somalis themselves. The technical committee is not so much involved any more and their [Djibouti] withdrawal will not have an impact."
He said accusations of bias should have been addressed by the Somalis themselves. The majority of delegates, he added, had not made any comment.
His comments were echoed by Kenyan officials who stressed that the technical committee was "just a facilitator". All efforts were being deployed, one observer added, to urge Djibouti not to leave and to bring back the Transitional National Government (TNG) president Abdiqassim Salad Hassan and some prominent faction leaders.
They left the talks earlier this month, saying a transitional federal charter - supposed to be the blueprint for the future of Somalia - had been foisted upon them with no prior discussion.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict
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