Somali peace talks delayed by 'one or two days': UN

Talks between Somali government officials and exiled Islamist leaders that were due to kick off Saturday have been delayed, a United Nations spokeswoman said.

Somali peace talks delayed by 'one or two days': UN
The talks -- bringing together seven Somalia officials and seven opposition figures in Djibouti -- now are expected to begin "in one or two days," said Susannah Price, an information officer at the UN office for Somalia.

She said the UN's special envoy for Somalia, Ahmed Ould Abdallah, was "talking to the parties (separately) and that some (delegates) arrived late in Djibouti".

"I'm more than hopeful that the Somalis here in Djibouti are committed to peace and reconciliation for the sake of Somalia," said Ould Abdallah ahead of the closed-door talks, which are expected to last up to a week.

The Islamic Courts Union, which ousted US-backed warlords from Mogadishu in 2006, briefly ruled large parts of the country before being defeated by Ethiopian forces last year.

Since then, they have carried out insurgency in Mogadishu against West-Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces.

Members from Somalia's dominant Hawiye clan and the Islamist opposition refused to take part in previous reconciliation attempts, arguing that talks should be held outside of Somalia and only after an Ethiopian withdrawal.

But the leader of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia -- an opposition umbrella group based in Eritrea and dominated by Islamists -- said last month that his movement was willing to give the talks a chance.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Mayıs 2008, 13:26