Talks between a deputy chairman of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) and the speaker of the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) are reported to have taken place last week in Banaaney village of Qoryooley district, 130 km southeast of Mogadishu, a source close to the talks told IRIN on Monday.
The talks between Mohammed Ibrahim Habsade, deputy chairman of the RRA and Abdalla Derow Isak, the TNA speaker - both members of the Rahanweyn clan - were shrouded in secrecy, the source said. Following the talks, Habsade went to Mogadishu - his first visit to the capital since the establishment of the TNG in 2000.
Habsade, the second vice-chairman, and Shaykh Adan Madobe, the first vice-chairman of the RRA, have fallen out with the RRA chairman, Colonel Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, following fierce fighting in Baidoa in July.
The fighting first broke out in Baidoa, the headquarters of the RRA, on 1 July between forces loyal to Shatigadud and those of his two deputies, in an apparent power struggle. On 31 July, Shatigadud's forces managed to drive those of his opponents out of the town and secure it.
Shaykh Adan Madobe was absent from the meetings between Derow and Habsade, but the latter "came as the emissary for the Madobe-Habsade alliance and the talks went well with both sides agreeing to continue talking", the source said.
A local journalist in Mogadishu, however, told IRIN that no deal had been finalised and the TNG is reported to have asked Habsade to first deliver Shaykh Adan before any deal can be reached.
"Basically they were told to come as group. The TNG is not sure whether Habsade really speaks for Adan Madobe or not." Adan Madobe has been one of the most vocal opponents of the TNG "and there is suspicion in some circles [within the TNG], about his sincerity", the journalist said.
Meanwhile, Shatigadud loyalists are reported to be mining the road between Baidoa and Dinsor, the base of the two deputy chairmen's forces, a source in Baidoa told IRIN.
He added that Rahanwayn clan elders were currently meeting in Qansahdhere, 90km northwest of Baidoa, to try and see if they could reconcile the two RRA factions "before another round of fighting breaks out".