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05 September 2006
East African Standard

A regional (IGAD) Heads of States summit scheduled today to discuss the Somalia crisis was called off as most leaders did not show up.

There was confusion after the venue of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) meeting was switched from Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) to State House, Nairobi, without explanation.

Security officers, staff and a battery of local and international journalists who had converged at KICC in the morning were caught unawares.

Signs emerged at about 10.30am that the meeting, slated for 9am, would not take place at KICC as the ceremonial red carpet was removed, flags lowered and members of the police band hurried to board their bus.

Only Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr Melles Zenawi, and the Somalia powerless interim President, Mr Abdullahi Yusuf, attended the informal consultation.

Those who failed to attend the summit chaired by President Kibaki included Heads of States and governments from Uganda, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.

Journalists rushed to State House where they were denied entry and only issued with a Presidential Press Service dispatch. The dispatch stated: "Due to the nature of discussions, today’s extra-ordinary meeting of Igad has been transformed into a forum for informal consultations.

Accordingly, the venue of the meeting has been changed to State House, Nairobi."

A nine-point communiquÈ was later issued.

The leaders called on the United Nations Security Council to convene to consider and take action in accordance with its Presidential Statement of July 13.

The meeting also endorsed the revised deployment of peacekeepers and requested the African Union Peace and Security Council to expedite its formal approval.

Igad urged the AU to speed up the release of funds to enable the implementation of the first phase of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The leaders called on the people of Somalia and the international community to support the mission.

However, concern was raised that the forum’s main agenda, to discuss an AU backed peacekeeping plan for the Horn of Africa nation, had been overtaken by developments at an Arab League-brokered meeting in Sudan.



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