SOMALIA: Stay the course, Musyoka tells leaders..
NAIROBI, 4 Feb 2004 (IRIN) - Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ministerial facilitation committee for the Somali peace talks, has called on Somali leaders to stay the course and guard against setbacks..
He urged the leaders "to stay on course by concerting and intensifying their efforts towards realising the aspirations of the Somalis," according to a press statement he issued on 4 February.
In it, Musyoka noted that the agreement the Somali groups signed on 29 January, "represents a momentous achievement and a landmark breakthrough". In this regard, he advised them "to refrain from any precipitative or hostile propaganda, animosity and mutual suspicion that could trigger any setback".
He said "any single interest or issues or by individual or groups" must not be allowed to hold the final conclusion of the process hostage. "The international community will not stand by and watch these efforts undermined or derailed by any group or leader bent on promoting their selfish and narrow interest", Musyoka warned.
Musyoka reminded the Somali leaders that the international community would impose a "targeted sanctions regime" on those who tried to undermine the current agreement.
The minister stated that Somali traditional leaders remaining in Somalia would be brought to Kenya to participate in the final phase of the conference, which would be devoted to the selection of future members of parliament.
He called on the leaders of the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the neighbouring self-declared autonomous region of Puntland to reduce the tension between them and "exercise maximum restraint" to avoid conflict. Tension has been rising between the two sides ever since Puntland forces took control of the Sool regional capital, Las Anod, in December last year
The Sool and Sanaag regions fall geographically within the borders of pre-independence British Somaliland, which is now the self-declared republic, but most of the clans in those regions are associated with clans in Puntland.
The IGAD-sponsored talks on Somalia began in October 2002 in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, but were moved to the capital, Nairobi, in February 2003.
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