RRA rivals meet in Ethiopia

The president of the self-declared South West State of Somalia, Col Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud - who is also the chairman of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA)- has met one of his rival deputies in Ethiopia, an RRA source confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Shatigadud went to Dolo, Ethiopia with a six-member delegation, where he met Shaykh Adan Madobe, the RRA first vice-chairman, the source said.

Speaking from Baidoa, Shatigadud's stronghold, the source added that the RRA chairman also met Ethiopian officials. "This is another attempt by the Ethiopians to end the conflict between the two sides before the Somali reconciliation talks in Kenya," he said.

Adan Madobe reportedly left for Dolo by road from his current headquarters in Dhinsoor, 90 km south of Baidoa, with a four-member delegation.

Baidoa, which is the headquarters of the RRA, was the scene of fierce factional fighting between the two RRA factions. Clashes first broke out on 1 July between forces loyal to Shatigadud and those of Madobe and the second RRA vice-chairman, Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, in an apparent power struggle. On 31 July, Shatigadud's forces drove his deputies and their forces out of Baidoa and seized control of the town.

The two sides have signed an agreement not to renew hostilities in the region, the RRA source told IRIN. "They agreed to stop any new movement of forces, and attacks on each other forces."

There have been persistent reports in the local media that forces loyal to Adan Madobe and Habsade are planning fresh attacks on Baidoa.

However, a business source in Baidoa told IRIN that "not many people here expect this agreement will end the conflict".

"This is purely a power struggle and neither side is going to give in, and for peace to return one of them has to give in. I don't see that happening anytime soon," he said.