More time

 

Abdikadir Mahamud Walayo, an official of the same committee, said the main reason for the delay was to accommodate demands by Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan for more preparation time.

 

"We received some complaints from some sections of the Somali clans, especially the Hawiye. So we decided to accommodate them," Walayo said.

 

The Hawiye welcomed the postponement.

 

"This is in fact a positive step towards reconciliation," Ahmed Diriye, a spokesperson for the Hawiye, said.

 

Some Hawiye clan members have fought against the interim government, led by Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia's president and a member of the rival Darod clan.

 

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the
ICU, is opposed to the conference [AFP]

ICU warning

 

The plan to hold reconciliation talks comes after a series of violent incidents across Somalia, particularly over the last year.

 

The Somali interim government, backed by Ethiopian troops, pushed fighters from the Union of Islamic Courts (ICU) and their allies from Mogadishu at the end of 2006.

 

Somalia's security situation has remained serious, with the interim government unable to assert its authority across the nation of 10 million people.

 

Attacks have continued against Somalia's interim government, Ethiopian troops in the country and peacekeepers from the African Union (AU).

 

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the ICU, and Sheikh Hassan Sheikh Aden, former parliament speaker, said on Tuesday that their supporters would resist the peace talks.

 

"[We] consider the reconciliation conference... as a new chapter of fragmenting the Somali society with the hands of its arch-enemy and cement the occupation," they said in a statement.

 

Somalia has been unstable since Mohamed Siad Barre, the country's leader, was deposed in 1991.