NEWS 2004



SOMALIA: Arbitration committee for proposed parliament formed

NAIROBI, 23 June (IRIN) - Twelve members of the Arbitration Committee that will resolve any disputes that might arise during the nomination of the 275 members of Somalia's proposed Transitional Federal Parliament were on Tuesday sworn into office in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The committee members who were named at the end of a meeting of IGAD (the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development) regional foreign ministers, were nominated by delegates to the ongoing Somali National Reconciliation Conference (SNRC).

Five clans each nominated three members to the committee, but one clan, the Dir, failed to present its nominees to the IGAD ministerial team because of a dispute over who was to represent the clan.

The ministers, who are mediating the talks under the auspices of IGAD, warned that faction leaders who had boycotted the Nairobi peace process risked being subjected to international sanctions.

In a joint communique issued by the IGAD Ministerial Facilitation Committee, the ministers said they were concerned about "the unacceptable absence of certain Somali leaders from the Third and Final Phase of the conference" and urged those leaders to return to "the conference without further delay."

"No Somali leaders should impose any conditionalities on the SNRC," they warned. "Spoilers and those who obstruct the process from within and outside the SNRC will be named publicly and subjected to targeted international sanctions," the ministerial communique read by Mohamed Ali
Foum, the African Union (AU) Special Envoy for Somalia, said.

Notable among the absentees were Abdulkassim Salat Hassan, the president of the Transitional National Government and Musa Sudi Yalahow, the head of the Somali National Salvation Council.

Each of Somalia's four major clans has been allocated 61 seats in the proposed parliament, while a fifth clan (an alliance of minority clans) would have 31 MPs. A Speaker and two deputy Speakers would be elected from among the MPs, and they in turn would preside over the election of the president.

The ministers urged delegates to honour the 31 July, 2004 deadline, set by IGAD, as the end of Phase III of the peace talks.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since the toppling in 1991 of the regime of Muhammad Siyad Barre. The IGAD-sponsored talks began in October 2002 in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, but were moved to Nairobi in February 2003.

The IGAD facilitation committee said that the AU would soon dispatch a reconnaissance mission to Somalia to prepare the ground for the deployment of military monitors. It urged Somali leaders to cooperate with the initiative.

It also said the IGAD committee would soon visit the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and the UN Security Council in New York, to brief the two institutions on progress in the peace process. The committee appealed to IGAD partners and the international community to continue funding the talks.

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