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Somali speaker snubs PM at crisis talks


Nairobi - Somalia's influential parliamentary speaker on Friday snubbed the country's prime minister at United Nations-organised crisis talks in Nairobi aimed at resolving a bitter dispute over the location of the lawless nation's transitional government.

The feuding pair are currently both in Nairobi on separate trips and the UN and Kenya had sought to arrange a meeting between them but speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden did not turn up for the talks, officials said.

"He failed to show up," prime minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told reporters alongside UN special envoy for Somalia Francois Fall and Kenyan Regional Co-operation Minister John Koech at the Nairobi hotel where the meeting was to have been held.

Fall and Koech insisted his absence was not a blow to their efforts to bring the battling sides together to resolve the increasingly hostile rift over the base of Somalia's transitional government.

"The speaker did not show up but said the doors for negotiations are open," said Koech, who was instrumental in the formation of Somalia's transitional government in Kenya last year. "The prime minister also assured that he is ready for negotiations."

"The Somali leaders are ready to resolve their differences," said Fall, who visited Somalia this month in an unsuccessful bid to break the impasse that has hamstrung the government since it left Kenya in June after eight months in exile.

Aden and Gedi are on opposite sides of the dispute over where the transitional government should be based in Somalia, which has been without a functioning central administration for 14 years.

Gedi, transitional president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and their allies have based themselves in Jowhar, about 90 kilometres north of Mogadishu, citing insecurity in the capital.

Aden, meanwhile, leads a faction comprised of Mogadishu-based warlords, some members of parliament and cabinet officials who insist the government make the capital its home.

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