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Somalia's Legislature Opens First Session on Native Soil

Somalia's interim parliament has convened in its homeland for the first time since forming in Kenya 18 months ago.

Two hundred and five lawmakers attended Sunday's opening session in the town of Baidoa, 250 kilometers northwest of the violence-plagued capital, Mogadishu.

Some Mogadishu warlords were absent, reportedly because a cease-fire declared in the capital last week remains shaky.

But Somalia's president, prime minister, and parliament speaker all attended the opening after months of dispute over where lawmakers should meet.

The president, Abdullah Yusuf, called on parliament members to work toward national peace and security.

The interim government is the 14th attempt to restore central authority to Somalia since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991 and feuding warlords plunged the country into chaos.

The new government remains split over where to base its operations. One faction led by speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan favors Mogadishu, while another led by President Yusuf and Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi has set up in the northern town of Jowhar, citing security concerns in the capital.

The sides chose Baidoa as a compromise location under heavy international pressure.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.