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  • Title: [SW News] (UN Integrated Regional) HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs
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  • Date :[3 May 2000]

 

 

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs


Story Filed: Wednesday, May 03, 2000 4:58 PM EST

Nairobi (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, May 3, 2000) - DJIBOUTI: Somali faction leaders boycott talks - As the Somali peace talks opened in Arta, Djibouti, on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Farah told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that the conference would last for a week and include 250 "important representatives" of Somali society.

Djibouti officials organising the conference have told international news agencies that up to 1,000 businessmen, clan elders, professional and civic leaders from across Somalia are expected to attend. The conference was delayed for 12 days when Djibouti delegates failed to persuade all faction leaders to attend. The conference has shifted its focus to "civil society" but Siad Dualeh from the organising team told Reuters "warlords willing to participate ...are welcome, but they will not be given a leading role".

Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of the main leaders from north Mogadishu, is attending, but Hussein Aideed from southern Mogadishu, has refused. The breakaway state of Somaliland has also rejected the initiative, saying it has no role in Somalia's problems. Somaliland's parliament declared it was "treasonable" to attend the Djibouti conference, reported Radio Hargeisa. Leaders from the self-declared state of Puntland, in the northeast, issued a statement saying there would be no participation unless the Djibouti conference recognised the existence of Puntland. The Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), which controls Bay and Bakool regions in southern Somalia, has announced it will attend the conference, after initially refusing.

In Djibouti, the foreign ministry said the formal opening had been delayed to give the government and army time to set up facilities in Arta, 35 km west of Djibouti. However controversy over the peace talks has increased tension in Somalia. In Mogadishu, Abgal clan leaders supporting the Djibouti conference have clashed with clan leaders in south Mogadishu opposing it. An upsurge in fighting in Mogadishu left eight people dead, the local FM radio Horn-Afrique reported. AP quoted a doctor at the ICRC-run Kaysane Hospital as saying 22 patients had been treated for gunshot or shrapnel wounds.

Regional analysts have expressed concern that partial attendance by faction leaders could increase hostilities, and that representatives from civil society have proved in previous Somalia conferences to have insufficient influence in the war-torn country.

DJIBOUTI: Ethiopian Oromo boys imprisoned

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has released a list of 26 Ethiopian Oromo boys in detention at Gabode prison in Djibouti, some as young as 10 years. According to the report, the children were among a group arrested in the street after they arrived in Djibouti from Ethiopia as refugees. Describing prison conditions as "suffocating and dirty", the report said the International Secretariat of OMCT had already expressed "grave concern" over 29 Oromo boys allegedly detained and subjected to sexual abuse by fellow inmates and prison guards in Gabode for the last six months.

ETHIOPIA: Prime minister defends land policy

Prime minister Meles Zenawi has defended his policy of state ownership of land, saying the government does not believe private ownership of land "is the right policy for Ethiopia", PANA reported from Addis Ababa. Meles said the government "holds the right to distribute or redistribute land when the need arises", in response to questions at a four-day international symposium reviewing Ethiopia's socio-economic performance 1991- 1999. International financial institutions and economists have criticised his government's policy of state ownership of land as a stumbling block to the country's food production in the face of cyclical drought-induced food strategies, PANA said.

The pro-government Walta Information Centre carried a report from a former chief economist for the World Bank who said Ethiopia's transformation over the last decade "is an occasion for considerable celebration". Joseph Stiglitz, now a fellow at Rand Foundation, an independent think tank, told the symposium that Ethiopia had performed impressively at the macro-economic level and had adopted "pro-poor policies". But he pointed to a high illiteracy rate, AIDS and food security issues as an immediate source of concern.

ETHIOPIA: Somali clan leader abducted

A spokesman for the Somali National Front, Ibrahim Jama Hawle, told reporters in Mogadishu that Ethiopian troops had picked up the Marehan clan's traditional elder, Ugas Omar Ugas Hirsi, in Gedo, AFP reported. The SNF spokesman said he was abducted after he refused to attend an Ethiopian-sponsored inter-Marehan conference in the Bulohawo district in the south of Gedo region, bordering Ethiopia and Kenya. The SNF has accused Ethiopia of supporting and training the rival Rahanweyn Resistance Army in Bay and Bakool regions. "It is possible the abduction was to stop Ugas Omar from visiting Djibouti [for peace talks]," the spokesman said.

SUDAN: Oil pipeline sabotaged

The pipeline carrying Sudan's crude oil to a Red Sea port was blown up early on Monday morning, state television reported. The secretary-general of the ministry of energy and mining was quoted as saying the export pipeline at Singat, about 345 km east of Khartoum, had been "subjected to a limited act of sabotage". State television said exports would not be delayed because of the volumes of oil stored at Port Bashir, on the Red Sea. A spokesman for the Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy Inc. said the damaged should be fixed in about three days, Reuters reported. The company has faced vociferous protest over its operations in Sudan. State television said leaflets found at the site indicated the sabotage was carried out by the Beja Congress, part of the opposition National Democratic Alliance. It is the third act of sabotage on the 1,610 km pipeline since it started to pump oil last August, according to Reuters.

SUDAN: Secretary-General welcomes humanitarian ceasefire

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed an announcement by the Sudanese government of a humanitarian ceasefire until 15 July this year. In a statement, the Secretary-General said he also acknowledged the decision on 19 April "to suspend air bombings in Southern Sudan to protect civilian lives and facilitate the continuing delivery of humanitarian assistance". The statement invited the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) also to extend the humanitarian ceasefire to create "an enabling environment for humanitarian operations".

SUDAN: Food situation "satisfactory" according to government

Minister of Agriculture Dr Al-Hajj Adam was quoted by government media as saying the food situation in Sudan was "satisfactory". He said Sudan did not suffer a food gap, and that available food met domestic consumption. The comments follow a warning by WFP last week that aid supplies in Sudan would run out by June, leaving about 2 million people in danger of starvation. The agency appealed for increased aid saying there had been a poor response to an appeal in January.

SUDAN: Rebel bishops attend ceremony by Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the besieged government-held capital of Juba in south Sudan and called for peace. George Carey, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, addressed a huge congregation gathered on Sunday for the enthronement of the new Anglican Archbishop of Juba, Joseph Marona. Reuters reported that residents contacted by telephone said almost three quarters of the 250, 000 people living in Juba had tried to attend the ceremony, which included three bishops based in territory controlled by the SPLA. Khartoum's pro-government 'Alwan' newspaper reported that hundreds of people from rebel-held areas had been allowed by the government to enter Juba for the enthronement, in response to a request by Carey.

SUDAN: Rebel leader scorns air-strike ban

SPLA leader John Garang has described the halt to air-strikes announced by the government a "public-relations exercise aimed at improving international relations". The London-based newspaper 'Al-Sharq al-Awsat" said that in a telephone interview from the field, Garang rejected national elections scheduled for October, and also dismissed as "illegitimate" an internationally supported conference of southern forces, scheduled to be held in Geneva in mid-May. Garang said there were still battles "raging in the east" which was a government offensive "aimed at aborting peaceful solutions". He called on all southern and Arab tribes in joint territories between north and south to hold a reconciliation conference.

SUDAN: Arab militia accused of killings

An exiled spokesman for Massaleit civilians in western Sudan claimed in a statement issued from Egypt that government-supported Arab militia had caused death and displacement in escalating attacks over the last two years. The statement said that in February more than 50 people from the Massaleit village of Geriko, on the Sudan-Central African Republic border, were killed by attackers on horseback carrying automatic weapons. Victims included the minority Fur, Dagu and Senya. The statement complained of "a broader and deliberate policy to alter the ethnic opposition of the area at the expense of the non-Arab ethnic groups" in western Sudan.

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.

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