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Somali Reconciliation Conference A Success, Declares Chairman

The chairman of Somalia's national reconciliation conference says the meeting was a success.

In an interview with VOA's Somali service as the conference ended Thursday , Chairman Ali Mahdi said he is "very satisfied" with the outcome of the 45-day meeting.

Mahdi said that among other resolutions, delegates have called on the government to change a rule that limits cabinet positions to members of parliament.

The conference in Mogadishu was aimed at ending years of chaos and conflict in Somalia, which has not had a stable central government since 1991.

Hundreds of Somalis have died in clashes between insurgents and pro-government forces since the talks began in mid-July.

Mahdi said the conference was only the first phase of talks, adding that the government hopes to entice members of Somalia's Islamist movement to future meetings.

Islamists boycotted the conference, as did many members of Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan.

The Islamists controlled Mogadishu for several months last year before being ousted by the government and allied Ethiopian troops.

The government says the Islamists are responsible for the bloody insurgency that has forced hundreds of thousands of Mogadishu residents to flee the city for safer areas.

Opponents of the government, including Islamist leaders, plan to hold a rival conference Saturday in the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

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