Leaders of Somalia's transitional government have set a date for parliament to hold its first meeting on Somali soil. Lawmakers said today that parliament will convene February 26th in the southern town of Baidoa. The town is a compromise between parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who wants the government based in Mogadishu, and President Abdullahi Yusuf, who wants it in the town of Jowhar. The parliament has yet to convene on Somali soil since being formed in Kenya late in 2004.
Ahmed Adan, program director for VOA affiliate station HornAfrik in Mogadishu, told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje initial reaction among Somalis is positive and welcoming. He says Somalis hope the parliament indeed meets in Somalia and for the agreement to last. Adan says the last minute withdrawal of Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi from the agreement has the potential to disrupt its implementation. But he said leaders will likely apply diplomatic pressure to have him rejoin the latest initiative.
Adan says convening the parliament in Baidoa, a town lacking facilities and infrastructures, will prove a challenging exercise. He says over the next few weeks, intense efforts will be made to prepare and equip the city for its new role. The affiliate director says the success of such efforts will largely depend on the level of international community support. Somalia has been without a working central government since warlords overthrew President Mohammad Siad Barre in 1991.