- In Mogadishu, large crowds of Somalis celebrated the formation of the country's first parliament in 13 years. The UN and the international community hails the breakthrough in the process of re-establishing a new government in Somalia. In the breakaway republic of Somaliland, however, views are split.
After two years of debating in Kenya, delegates from Somalia's many warring clans and sub-clans yesterday decided on a power sharing model regarding the establishment of a parliament. 275 members were elected to the new national assembly, which is to lead the war-torn country to elections and a new government.
The clans represented in the Kenya talks decided on a parliament divided by clan groups. Each of Somalia's four major clans was allocated 61 seats in the new parliament, while other minor clans were to share the other seats. The composition of the new parliament thus will provide a key to balance the clans that have been fighting since Somalia's central government broke down in 1991.
The decision to establish a new Somali parliament immediately resulted in hilarious cheering at the Nairobi meeting, which soon after spread to the streets of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Hundreds of Somalis took to the streets in Mogadishu to celebrate the inauguration of the "transitional federal parliament for Somalia", according to media reports from Somalia.
Also the international community, which has sponsored the long-lasting Kenya talks, rapidly hailed the inauguration of the new Somali law-making assembly. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday evening "welcomed" the inauguration of Somalia's new parliament.
In a statement released by his spokesman, the UN Secretary-General called the milestone "the beginning of long-awaited reconciliation" and voiced hope that the new parliament would work for the election of a President of Somalia and the establishment of governance structures for the country. Mr Annan also pledged the UN's readiness to support the peace process.
The inauguration was also haled by the European Union, whose representative at the Nairobi talks, Carlo Calia, said he wished the new parliament the best of luck. Kenyan diplomat Bethuel Kiplagat, the chief mediator at the talks, said he was delighted at finally seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel."
Nevertheless, everybody is not satisfied with the results of the Nairobi meeting. 61 MPs, mostly of the Darod clan, have yet to be named and sworn in due to disagreements between the sub-clans. Further, large groups of Somalis hold that most of the new MPs are unfit to represent the country as they have blood on their hands. Many are connected to the warlords that have committed gruesome war crimes and, critics say, only represent their clan and warlord.
Also in the unrecognised breakaway republic of Somaliland - a former British colony that undid its union with former Italian Somalia in 1991 - there are concerns. While most Somalilanders wish their Somali brothers peace and good luck with a new parliament, they are aware that the new institution is to represent them as well in international forums. Somaliland's case for international recognition is severely disturbed, despite its successes in establishing peace and democracy.
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