ˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇby Wang Jingzhong
ˇˇˇˇ ELDORET, Kenya, Oct. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- A new round of Somali peacetalks kicked
off in Kenya's northwestern city of Eldoret Tuesday, with regional leaders and
members of the international community urging Somali delegates to make it the
ˇˇˇˇThis is the 14th peace conference of this kind since the civil war broke
out in Somalia eleven years ago, and all the previous talks have failed due to
the clan-based factions in the country were unable to reach an agreement
satisfactory to all.
ˇˇˇˇAddressing the opening ceremony, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi called on
all Somali factions to put down their weapons of warand make this round of talks
ˇˇˇˇ"You must put the national interest before your own. It would require
courage and strength of purpose to help accomplish all thework that has to be
done," Moi told more than 300 notable Somali political, military, traditional
and civil society leaders attending the talks.
ˇˇˇˇDelegates already present in Eldoret include a large delegationof the
Mogadishu-based Transitional National Government (TNG), ledby Prime Minister
Hassan Farah, and a delegation led by President Abdullahi Yusuf of Puntland, a
political entity within Somalia.
ˇˇˇˇ"The peace process belongs to the Somali people. No one from outside is
going to give prescriptions. The process must be owned by the Somalis, and the
path to peace and reconciliation walked bythe Somalis themselves," said Moi.
ˇˇˇˇThe conference is being held under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental
Authority on Development (IGAD), a group of east African states that includes
Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda.
ˇˇˇˇThe talks will be divided into three phases, with this first phase focusing
on cessation of hostilities, endorsement of the peace process and combating
terrorism, said Kenya's special envoy for Somalia Elijah Mwangale, who has been
piloting the peace process.
ˇˇˇˇWhile addressing the conference, Sudanese Presidents Omar el-Bashir, also
chairman of IGAD, said that the chaos in Somalia has not only badly affected
countries in the region but in other partsof the world as well.
ˇˇˇˇHe said that IGAD and the international community strongly support the
peace process in Somalia, as is evidenced by the presence in Eldoret of four
heads of state and government from IGAD member states and the representatives of
quite a number of international organizations.
ˇˇˇˇHowever, he also noted that it is up to the Somali people themselves to
decide their own destiny, and others can only play an assisting role.
ˇˇˇˇHis words were echoed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who said that
Somalia had become the teacher of Africa by negative example.
ˇˇˇˇ"Modern life cannot be supported by a clan society," he told the delegates.
He said that human resources were a country's most valuable assetts, but that
Somalia had been destroying these resources for the last eleven years.
ˇˇˇˇEthiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that the past elevenyears were
"littered with the remnants of so many peace agreements(for Somalia) that have
ˇˇˇˇ"This is the time for Somali leaders to renounce, once and for all, force
and military means as methods of resolving their difference," he told the
ˇˇˇˇHe urged the Somali delegates to be seriously engaged in this round of
peace talks, warning that it could be the last hope for reaching a peaceful
resolution to problems in Somalia.
ˇˇˇˇ"There is no other way than the peaceful part for resolving problems in
Somalia. Therefore, this is indeed the last chance forSomalia and our
sub-region," he said.
ˇˇˇˇRepresentatives of the international community to the conference stressed
that they fully support the peace process and would be ready to help Somalia if
the conference produced real commitment to peace.
ˇˇˇˇKlaus Dahlgaard, chief representative of the European Union (EU)and Danish
Ambassador to Kenya, pledged at the conference that theEU is ready to support
the peace process in any way possible and appropriate.
ˇˇˇˇ"We reconfirm our willingness to give full support for the implementation
of a possible peace and reconciliation agreement, as well as to continue our
humanitarian and development assistance," he said.
ˇˇˇˇA special envoy of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that if
Somalia's leaders could provide a peaceful environment, the UN would provide
increased development and humanitarian assistance, "including through the
deployment of a post-conflict peace-building mission."
ˇˇˇˇSomalia has been in the grip of rival warlords since it descended into
chaos after the ousting of former dictator MohammedSiad Barre in 1991.
ˇˇˇˇThe TNG was set up after a conference of clan elders in 2000, but has so
far failed to convince many of the country's warlords to accept its rule.
ˇˇˇˇIt controls only part of the capital Mogadishu and other pockets of
territory around the country. Enditem