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SOMALIA: Puntland talks hit snag
Boosaaso,Somalia,15 May 2003 — 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".

SOMALIA: Peace talks enter critical stage .

Nairobi,Kenya, May 15, 2003 -The Somali peace talks, currently under way in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have entered their final and critical stage, Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka told delegates on Wednesday when he opened a plenary session of the conference.

The minister appealed to the Somali leaders "to put your differences aside" for the sake of the Somali people.

The talks, which opened on 15 October 2002, have been held up by wrangling over the allocation of seats to drafting committees and to the plenary sessions.

Musyoka, who symbolically tabled the committees' reports, accused some factions of "blatantly" violating the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the Somali parties on 27 October last year. Under the terms of the agreement, the Somali groups undertook to suspend all hostilities for the duration of the peace conference.

Since then there have been multiple violations, with fighting breaking out in the capital, Mogadishu, the towns of Las Anod in the northeast and Baidoa in the southwest, and in the Bari, Bay, Bakol, Gedo and Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Middle Juba regions.

"Arrangements are at an advanced stage to implement targeted sanctions against those leaders who violate the ceasefire or interfere with the process," Musyoka warned.

He added that inasmuch as the conference was about enter its third and final stage, there was a need "to convene an international pledging conference for Somalia in the near future" to support the establishment of institutions for a government in Somalia.

The third and final stage of the conference is supposed to start "in three to four weeks time", a Somali delegate told IRIN on Thursday. This final phase involves the contentious issue of power sharing, and "will be the most difficult", he added.

"Every faction leader here wants a bigger share than he will probably get," the delegate noted. "It will take a Herculean effort to convince all of them to settle for less than what they expect for the greater good."

Peace talks mediator, Bethwel Kiplagat of Kenya, said he saw "signs of hope that we'll bring this process to a fruitful end". He said he hoped the conference would agree on a transitional government by mid-June.



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