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|ISSUE 51 January 11, 2003||
Somali Peace Delegates Tossed From Hotels
Mon, Jan.6, 2003
William Faria, Associated Press writer
ELDORET, Kenya - Hundreds of Somalis attending peace talks in this central Kenyan town were booted from their hotel rooms by police Monday - a move the talks' organizers say was needed to bring order to the often chaotic negotiations.
For months, the Somalian factions at the talks have bickered over the size and makeup of the delegations, and finally impatient international mediators stepped in, ordering more than half the estimated 800 participants to go home.
Police spent the morning going from hotel to hotel, pounding on doors and ordering confused and surprised Somalis from their hotel rooms in Eldoret, 155 miles northwest of the capital, Nairobi.
Many grumbled, but nearly all went peacefully after being told by the leaders of their delegations that they were indeed being sent home from the talks, which are being held in Kenya under the auspices of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
Elijah Mwangale, an official with the organizer, said 362 delegates are approved to take part in the second phase of the talks.
"The final list of delegates for Phase II is out ... Only those delegates whose names are on this final list will be allowed to remain," Mwangale said in a statement. "The hotels and the Kenya police have been advised accordingly." Those being forced out will be flown back to Somalia.
The talks - the 14th Somali peace conference since 1991 - began in October and have been flooded by delegates representing the country's clan-based factions.
A few weeks after the talks began, Somalia's transitional administration and key faction leaders agreed to temporarily stop fighting and work toward setting up a federal government to run the troubled nation, which hasn't had a central authority since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Since then, it's been slow going at the talks.
In the second phase of talks, smaller committees are to work on issues like the structure of a future government and demobilizing armed gangs.