Peaceful day for Somalia reconciliation conference

MOGADISHU, Somalia July 21 (Garowe Online) - Hundreds of clan delegates met in the Somali capital Mogadishu Saturday morning as scheduled to continue on the path to national reconciliation after more than 16 years of clan and religious violence.

The National Reconciliation Conference originally opened on July 15 and again July 19. Insurgents' mortars aimed at the conference hall on both occasions missed their mark but killed innocent civilians in nearby homes. [ Full story]

Ali Mahdi, chairman of the NRC, presented to the Somali delegates the option to keep him and his organizing committee or elect a new NRC leadership. The hall burst into applause as virtually every delegate expressed support for Mahdi and his team, our correspondent reported.

NRC organizers handed the delegates an 11-point "temporary agenda" for the conference. The delegates unanimously agreed that all the Somali clans were represented at the NRC, and that results from the NRC will be recognized by all.

A contentious agenda issue, clan conflict resolution, was discussed at length during Saturday's convention. Organizers informed delegates that the issue will be opened to floor debate tomorrow, but advised delegates to meet in small groups for today.

Delegates belonging to the Digil and Mirifle clans, who traditionally inhabit the Bay (Baidoa) and Bakool regions, left the conference hall temporarily. The delegates had an internal disagreement and returned to the hall only after NRC Chairman Ali Mahdi intervened, the group's spokesman told Garowe Online.

Imam Mohamud Imam Omar, the traditional leader of two major Hawiye clans (Habar Gedir and Abgaal), said the NRC is the conference where the Somali people can achieve lasting peace, which can remove them from today's troubles.

Imam Mohamud blessed conference organizers, delegates and those who support success of the NRC. He offered prayers to those who did not attend, praying that Allah (God) will instill goodness in their hearts.

The NRC will meet everyday of the week, except on Fridays when Muslims pour into mosques for weekly sermons, organizers said.

Meanwhile, insurgent violence continued at Mogadishu's Bakara market, despite a heavy police presence.

At least two people were reported dead when masked gunmen threw five hand grenades at police officers on patrol, witnesses said.

Bakara business groups continued to load their merchandise onto trucks and planned to completely relocate from the market, which the government has been unable to secure after a 17-day siege.

In another development, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi today named a new military commander to lead the Somali army. Col. Salah Hassan Jama replaced Gen. Abdullahi Ali Omar, who was appointed to a position in the ministry of internal affairs.

Source: Garowe Online

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