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Chairmanship of opposition council to rotate

Southern faction leaders opposed to the Mogadishu-based Transitional National Government (TNG) have established the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), news agencies said. The new grouping has a presidential council, consisting of five co-chairmen, and a first secretary, according to the pro-Ethiopian government Walta Information centre. Opposition leaders meeting in Ethiopia since 2 March include most of the main southern faction leaders.

The chairmanship is to rotate on a monthly basis among the five co-chairmen. The five co-chairmen are: Husayin Aydid of the Somali National Alliance (SNA); Hilowle Iman Umar, from north Mogadishu; General Adan Abdullahi Nur Gabyow, of the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM); Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA); and Abdullahi Shaykh Isma’il of the Southern Somalia National Movement (SSNM). Husayn Aydid has been chosen as the first chairman, with a mandate for six months. Aydid said in a press conference in Addis Ababa that, within this period, the SRRC aimed to convene a national reconciliation conference inside Somalia. He said the new conference would lead to a broad-based government. Opposition leaders who failed to attend the conference include Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, leader of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, and two prominent Mogadishu-based faction leaders, Muse Sudi Yalahow, and Usman Ali Ato.

In the self-declared state of Somaliland, northwestern Somalia, President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal last month spoke in favour of greater Ethiopian involvement in the affairs of Somalia, and reiterated his own opposition to the TNG. “Ethiopia is a major power. It must do more,” he told international journalists in Hargeysa, the Somaliland capital. The new interim authorities in Mogadishu have repeatedly condemned Ethiopia, accusing it of having a “policy of destabilisation” towards the new authority - which the Ethiopian government has strongly denied.

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