Delegates from Mogadishu, Puntland join Somalia opposition congress
11 Sep 11, 2007 - 3:35:45 PM
ASMARA, Somalia Sep 11 (Garowe Online) - A group of delegates from the Somali capital Mogadishu and the northern Puntland regions have joined an ongoing conference in Eritrea organized by opponents of Somalia's Ethiopia-backed government.
Ugas Abdi Dahir, a Mogadishu clan elder, led a delegation of supporters who were welcomed to Eritrea by fellow Somali delegates attending the opposition conference.
Ahmed Dirie, spokesman for an anti-Ethiopia wing of Hawiye clan elders, distanced the elders' group from Ugas Abdi Dahir's unannounced trip to the Eritrean capital Asmara.
"He [Ugas Abdi Dahir] is there for personal reasons," Mr. Dirie told reporters in Mogadishu yesterday, adding that the elder is not there on behalf of his clan.
Dirie said Ugas Abdi Dahir was in Kenya the last time he knew and only found out through the media that the clan elder went to Eritrea.
Ugas Abdi Dahir was one of the chief proponents in a group of Hawiye elders, including Dirie, who have expressed their strong opposition to the Ethiopian presence in Mogadishu.
The elders met with government officials and Ethiopian commanders during intense battles in March and April aimed in an effort to stop the violence.
These elders also refused to attend a 45-day National Reconciliation Conference that concluded in Mogadishu last month. The NRC, hosted by the government, was intended to achieve truce among clans but many questions linger as armed resistance in Mogadishu has shown no sign of receding.
Meanwhile, a 19-member delegation from Puntland, led by Sultan Said Artan, arrived in Eritrea today to participate at the congress, sources said.
The semiautonomous region of Puntland is seen as the stronghold of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, himself a former Puntland ruler.
Source: Garowe Online