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Kenya: Somalia Talks to Cost Kenya Sh1.2 B, Says Kiplagat


Biketi Kikechi

Kenya will have spent Sh1.2 billion (US$16 million) in the Somalia peace process when final payments are made this week.

The country was left with a Sh446 million debt when the wrangling Somali clan leaders left Nairobi last year. The settlement makes about 60 per cent of the total bill of Sh1.9 billion that the Somalis incurred in the Inter-Governmental Authority and Development led peace initiative.

The rest of the money was contributed by other Igad member states and donor agencies. Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, who led the negotiations, said staff, hotels, hospitals and transporters will now be paid their money.

"The staff has not been paid since that time, but we are now happy that the money is available and they will be paid this week," said Kiplagat.

He was addressing a conference organised by Life and Peace Institute at All Africa Conference of Churches headquarters in Nairobi. Kenya agreed to host the Somali National Reconciliation Conference in September 2001, a process that ended in June 2005 when President Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed left the country.

Only 300 delegates had been expected to attend the talks first held in Eldoret and relocated to Mbagathi in Nairobi, but over 1,000 people turned up.

There is still no stable government in Somalia despite the heavy cost Kenya incurred. Currently, the 275-member Somali Parliament is reportedly holding sessions in Baidoa, while President Yusuf resides in Jowhar.

Pledges not honoured

Kiplagat said lack of enough support from influential western countries such as USA and Britain.

"We did not get warm and strong support from the USA and they also changed their envoy six times while Britain said they would give their donation through the European Union," said Kiplagat.

He said those countries made some commitments that were never honoured while others took two to three years to meet their pledges.

Peace organisations, researchers and civil society involved in the Somali and Sudan peace process raised concern about the slow implementation.

The groups petitioned the Igad community to fasten the development of institutional structures to guarantee lasting peace. They said peace implementation had slackened because Igad had limited its activity after the signing of the peace agreements.

A statement released by Mr Tore Samuelsson and Rev Basil Buga Nyama said there was lack of implementation of the Sudan peace process. They said cited difficulties of re-entering Somalia after the government was established in Nairobi.

"There are difficulties regarding re-entering Somalia due to external and internal spoilers and insecurity," said the statement.

Addressing reporters at the same venue, they said Kenya should commit itself more to ensure there was everlasting peace in the region.

The participants also called for inclusion and more active roles of traditional leaders in negotiations.

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