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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

SOMALIA: TNG to attend retreat

NAIROBI, 8 January 2004 (IRIN) - Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) will attend a proposed retreat for Somali leaders aimed at jump-starting the stalled peace process, a senior TNG official told IRIN.

A high-level delegation led by interim President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan was expected to arrive in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday for consultations with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said TNG Presidency Minister Ali Pasha Haji Mahmud.

Abdiqassim walked out of the peace talks in July of last year, saying they were leading to the "dismemberment" of Somalia.

Ali Pasha told IRIN that a group of leaders who also quit the peace talks had sent delegations to represent them. These included prominent Mogadishu-based faction leaders Muse Sudi Yalahow and Usman Hasan Ato, the leader of the Kismayo-based Juba Valley Alliance Col Barre Adan Hirale, and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army.

A Somali political observer, however, told IRIN the fact that these important leaders would be represented by "second tier leaders" was an indication that "they are still not convinced their concerns have been adequately addressed, and so they are testing the waters".

"Museveni will have to convince them that all is well," he added.

Museveni, the current chairman of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), was expected to arrive in Nairobi on Thursday to hold consultations with Somali leaders ahead of the retreat, an IGAD official said.

"All of Thursday is set aside for him to hold discussions with leaders individually on the way forward," the official said. Museveni would then launch the 10-day leaders' retreat on Friday at a Nairobi hotel, and on Saturday they would move to Mombasa.

Ali Pasha said Abdiqassim was also expected to meet some "prominent" Somali leaders in Nairobi. "We are hopeful that by meeting with these leaders we will be able to resolve some important issues before the Mombasa retreat," he told IRIN.

Other dignitaries expected to attend the retreat include Mozambican President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique in his capacity as chairman of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), and Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the AU Commission.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict



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