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|Peace Talks to Move to Third And Final Stage|
Nairobi, 24 Jul 2003 (IRIN) - The organizers of the Somali peace talks in Kenya say a plenary session will start early next week to conclude the second phase of the conference and move on to the third and final phase.
James Kiboi, political and diplomatic liaison officer of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee, which is steering the conference, told IRIN that an interim charter would be submitted to the plenary session of the conference next week "for discussion and adoption".
Kiboi said that a consensus was emerging on the controversial issue of a charter. "We have "87 per cent agreement, and are currently working on the remaining 13 per cent. We want to ensure that once we present it at the plenary session we have as much consensus as possible", he stressed.
Kiboi told IRIN that once the charter was adopted, the talks would move to the third and final phase, "hopefully by next week". In this phase, members of parliament would be selected "on the basis of the 4.5 formula, the clan formula", he said.
This final phase involves the contentious issue of power sharing, and "will be the most difficult", a Somali delegate told IRIN.
"Every faction leader and every clan here wants a bigger share than they will probably get," the delegate noted. "It will take a great deal of effort to convince all of them to settle for less than what they expect."
Meanwhile, IGAD had started transporting Somali traditional elders to the venue of the talks, Kiboi told IRIN. "So far over 30 have been brought in and the rest will hopefully be brought in by this weekend". Kiboi said that Somalis should feel confident that the mediators "will bring to the talks all legitimate and real traditional elders", adding "all clans will have equal representation".
Kiboi said the elders would have a two-fold role in the final stage of the peace talks. First, they would participate in the selection of future parliamentarians, in which "they will have a significant and important role and their presence will give legitimacy to the process". Secondly, their presence "will contribute to the reconciliation of the various political leaders".
The third and final stage of the conference would last "three to four weeks", by which time an interim government would have been formed, Kiboi said.
The IGAD-sponsored talks on Somalia began in October 2002 in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, but were moved to the capital, Nairobi, in February this year.