TNA endorses agreement

After three days of debate, the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) of Somalia, has given its blessing to an agreement signed by the Transitional National Government (TNG) and Somalia's various political factions.

The leaders of the Somali groups meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, had on 29 January signed "a landmark breakthrough" agreement on a number of contentious issues that had plagued the peace talks.

The debate on a motion seeking endorsement for the agreement began after the TNG cabinet had given its approval on 3 February, Abdikarim Ahmad Ali, the TNG parliamentary affairs minister, told IRIN.

Abdikarim said that after three days of debate, 155 members present of the 245-seat TNA voted on the motion, of whom 136 supported the government's endorsement, with only one MP voting against it. Eighteen MPs abstained. The motion supporting the agreement was passed on 8 February.

After the vote, the president of the TNG, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, had signed "a decree making the agreement legal and binding on the government", said Abdikarim.

Meanwhile, senior traditional elders from the Hawiye, one of country's four major clans, had also expressed support for the agreement, one of them told IRIN on Monday. Mu'allim Harun Mu'allim Yusuf, the chairman of the elders' committee, said the Mogadishu meeting, attended by over 60 elders from all Hawiye sub-clans, had endorsed it and called on all the Somali leaders and people to follow suit.

"There is no turning back. We must support this compromise agreement and move forward towards the establishment of an all-inclusive government", he said, adding that if there were leaders who had some problems with the agreement, then "those minor issues should be addressed, but they should not be an excuse to scuttle the whole process".

The support of the elders had been seen as crucial since they would have to give legitimacy to any final deal reached by the various groups, a regional analyst told IRIN on Monday. "Their support is massively important. It demonstrates the unequivocal endorsement by all the Hawiye clans of the agreement," he stressed.