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IGAD Discusses Challenges of Somali Peace - 2003-10-28

Meeting in Nairobi, a group of African countries has discussed challenges to bringing peace to Somalia.

Officials of the seven-nation Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, known as IGAD, told reporters they are committed to bringing peace to Somalia.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, who is also the chairman of IGAD's committee on the Somali peace process, says the departure of key faction leaders from the negotiations and dwindling finances are the two biggest problems facing Somalia's peace process. "I am convinced that dialogue can help us resolve the issue of concern. I appeal to the Somali leaders to put their country first and give the Somali people the peace and stability that has evaded them for so long," he said.

He and other officials say the inter-governmental group, which is also overseeing the Sudanese peace talks, is the best forum for peace negotiations.

Mr. Musyoka was primarily referring to the president of Somalia's Transitional National Government, Abdikassom Salat Hassan. Mr. Hassan, along with several faction leaders, walked out of the IGAD talks to set up their own peace process.

Last Friday, Mr. Hassan told delegates attending the Inter-governmental groups summit in Uganda that Kenya and Ethiopia derailed the Somali peace talks, and said the peace process has collapsed.

He accused Kenya and Ethiopia of dividing Somalia through civil war so that Somalia would not pursue territorial claims against the two countries.

That summit urged officials of the inter-governmental group to meet in Nairobi to review the troubled peace process, in which faction leaders, members of activist groups, religious leaders and others have been negotiating how to end more than a decade of clan-based civil war in Somalia.

Delegates agreed to a constitution last month and are now selecting an interim president and parliament for the country.