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Somali Leaders Close to  Sign Long-Awaited Peace Accord

Somali warlords and politicians attending peace talks in Kenya say they are ready to sign a long-awaited agreement on the formation of a parliament.

Diplomats and observers say the major Somali faction leaders and politicians participating in the peace process in Nairobi have reached a rare consensus on the make-up of a new parliament.

Somali observer Guhled Mohammed says participants are elated by the unexpected breakthrough in the long-running peace talks.

"We know they have agreed and that's the most important thing," said Mr. Mohammed. "You know, Somalis previously have never come all of them together. So, we see this as a very good way forward."

The president of Somalia's transitional national government, Abdulkassim Salat Hassan, reportedly told Arab delegates that an agreement on a new parliament could be signed as early as Wednesday.

If a deal is signed, it will mark the first time a broad cross-section of leaders in the war-torn nation will have put their names to a document that could help end more than a decade of bitter fighting.

The Horn of Africa country has not had a functioning government since 1991 when factional fighters overthrew dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.