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Warlords Spurn Somali Premier Meeting‎

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Mogadishu, November 08 2005 (IOL) – Powerful warlords controlling Somalia's capital Mogadishu have ‎spurned invitations to meet transitional Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, highlighting a deep rift in the ‎government, officials said on Tuesday.‎

Warlords Muss Sudi Yalahow, also commerce minister and Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, also national security ‎minister, refused to meet Gedi late on Monday in Mogadishu, insisting that he must first relocate to the bullet-‎scarred capital, officials said.‎

The warlords rejected the talks a day after Gedi escaped an assassination attempt, when an explosion ripped ‎through a convoy that was carrying Gedi on Sunday, killing at least five people, mostly security men.‎

Instead Gedi, who met with his deputy premier Mohamed Hussein Aidid and disarmament minister Issa Botan ‎in the capital on Monday, said he would not hang around for the other warlords.‎

‎"We will never wait for Yalahow and Qanyare forever," he told radio stations in Mogadishu on Monday night.‎ ‎"We have been waiting for more than a year and the door of negotiations is now closed," Gedi said.‎

Qanyare said he and Yalahow would never meet Gedi until he recognizes Mogadishu as the official capital of ‎Somalia, a nation of about 10 million people that has been without an effective government since dictator ‎Mohamed Siyad Barre was toppled in 1991.‎

‎"We will never meet him until he relocates here," Qanyare told Horn Afrik radio, a Mogadishu based station.‎

Qanyare accused the prime minister of attempting to use a meeting with them to gain leverage with donors.‎

Gedi and President Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed face huge opposition from Somali warlords over their plan to base ‎the central administration in Jowhar, 90km north of the capital.‎

The pair argue that Mogadishu, centre of the violence that has wracked Somalia for the past 14 years, is too ‎unsafe.‎

The Horn of African nation has been deeply divided on the issue since the transitional government relocated ‎from neighboring Kenya in June.‎

The warlords insist that the transitional leader is barred by the federal charter, a sort of constitution, from ‎transferring the capital away from Mogadishu.‎

The warlords have also caused problems for Gedi's administration in Jowhar, with some foreign aid workers ‎leaving and the African Union pleading for its office to be spared harassment. ‎

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