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Warlords Spurn Somali Premier Meeting
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.