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SOMALIA: Disputes delay formation of transitional parliament again

NAIROBI, 6 August 2004 (IRIN) - The inauguration of Somalia's transitional parliament was on Thursday postponed to 19 August, after disagreements over nominees from various clans once again delayed earlier plans to swear-in the MPs and launch the assembly.

Ministers from members states of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), who are mediating the talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said in joint communiqué that they had given the clans which had not yet submitted their lists of designated MPs, two days to do so.

They urged the Somalia National Arbitration Committee, which is trying to arbitrate the clan disputes at the ongoing reconciliation conference in Nairobi, to "deal with the outstanding issues regarding the selection process".

The IGAD ministers had on July 19 said that they expected to launch the parliament on 30 July. But that deadline could not be met because some clans had failed to agree on how to divide the numbers of seats allocated to them and who their MPs should be.

Several other subclans had also expressed dissatisfaction with the number of seats they had been allocated.

Sources said the process of allocating seats and naming the MPs had become particularly contentious for two clans - the Darod and the Dir. But a delegate from the Darod community told IRIN that most disputes within his group had been addressed and that the "minor" outstanding disagreements would be ironed out by the end of day on Friday.

The IGAD ministers, who were in Nairobi on Wednesday and Thursday, said that they had agreed to meet again in Nairobi on 19 August, "for the swearing in of the selected Members of Parliament and subsequent inauguration of the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic."

Each of Somalia's four major clans was allocated 61 seats in the proposed 275-member parliament, while an alliance of minority clans would have 31 MPs. A speaker and two deputy speakers to be elected from among the parliamentarians will preside over the election of the president, who will in turn appoint a prime minister mandated to form a government.

In their communiqué, the ministers urged all Somali parties "to appreciate that security is a prerequisite to any form of development and called upon them to cooperate with the African Union (AU) and the rest of the international community towards this end."

"In this regard the ministers reiterated their resolve to undertake at an appropriate time a briefing mission to the Commission of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council," the communiqué said.

They also welcomed AU's "readiness to deploy, at an appropriate time, a Military Observer Mission to support the outcome of the reconciliation conference and the transition in Somalia".

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 when the regime of Muhammad Siyad Barre was toppled, following which the country plunged into anarchy and factional violence.

IGAD groups Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Somalia is also a member, but is not fully represented because it lacks a functioning government.

The IGAD-sponsored Somali National Reconciliation Conference began in October 2002 in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, and was moved to Nairobi in February 2003.

Theme (s): Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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