The warring sides in the southern town of Baidoa have officially signed a ceasefire document, local sources told IRIN on Wednesday.
They said the ceasefire, which was arranged by a mediation committee and announced over the weekend, has been observed by both sides, even before it was officially signed.
Fighting between rival factions of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), which controls much of Bay and Bakol regions in southwestern Somalia, erupted last week. The conflict pitted forces loyal to the RRA chairman, Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, against those loyal to his two deputies, Shaykh Adan Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade.
According to the source, Shatigadud signed the document on Tuesday afternoon, while Adan Madobe and Habsade signed on Wednesday morning. The document commits the two sides "to move all their militias from Baidoa proper, and hand over all technicals (battle wagons) to neutral elders".
This was good news for the residents of Baidoa, since "it removes the threat of renewed fighting inside the town", the sources told IRIN.
However regional analysts warned that even though the ceasefire was good news, it did not address "the underlying political issues which caused the fighting in the first place".
The basic problem arose over demands by the deputies that the RRA chairman, Shatigadud - who had earlier announced the establishment of the self-declared South West State (SWS) of Somalia - "should dismantle the SWS". They also called for a clan congress of the RRA to elect a new leadership. Shatigadud, for his part, insisted that the SWS "is the only legitimate entity in the region".
"Neither side seems to have moved from their positions," the sources said, adding that the two deputies felt "politically sidelined" by Shatigadud.
Meanwhile, 50 malaqs - traditional Rahanweyn leaders - have reportedly been invited to Ethiopia by the Ethiopian government. The elders are leaving for Ethiopia "within the next two days", the sources in Baidoa said. They believed the reason for the visit was to discuss "the current state of the RRA and the fighting in Baidoa".
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions