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Transitional parliament inaugurated in Nairobi

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Some 206 members of the Somali transitional federal parliament took the oath of office on Sunday, paving the way for the formation of a government in the Horn of Africa country that has been ravaged by factional violence since 1991.

A total of 214 MPs were scheduled to swear-in, but eight did not make it to the ceremony held in the United Nations complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, officials said.

Sixty-one seats in the 275-member parliament were still vacant. Officials said some subclans had not yet submitted their lists of representatives to the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators, because of disagreements on how to share the number of positions allocated to them.

Most of the subclans that are yet to submit their lists of MPs, belong to the Darod group.

"Some cases are still in dispute and we asking them to expedite the process of selecting their representatives," Kenya's regional cooperation minister John Koech, the new chairman of the IGAD ministerial committee mediating the Somali peace talks, told IRIN.

Delegates, who had been attending the Somalia reconciliation conference in Nairobi for nearly two years, chose the MPs.

Each of Somalia's four major clans was allocated 61 seats in the proposed parliament, while an alliance of minority clans would have 31 MPs. A speaker and two deputy speakers to be elected from among the parliamentarians will preside over the election of the president, who will in turn appoint a prime minister mandated to form a government.

Koech said that he expected the entire process of setting up the Somali interim government to be complete in about two weeks.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, welcomed the inauguration of the transitional parliament describing it as "the beginning of a long-awaited reconciliation" in Somalia. Annan reiterated the UN's readiness to continue supporting the peace process.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 when the regime of Muhammad Siyad Barre was toppled, following which the country plunged into anarchy and factional violence.

IGAD groups Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Somalia is also a member, but is not fully represented because it lacks a functioning government.

The IGAD-sponsored Somali National Reconciliation Conference began in October 2002 in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, and was moved to Nairobi in February 2003.

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

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