Why have the never-ending Somali peace talks been going on years without results? Because they are funded by external donors. There is now a group of Somali peace negotiators who will continue to be reasonably well off financially as long as they continue talking without results. Rather like the naval officers in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels, their material prospects are threatened by an outbreak of peace. Unlike the British naval officers, they are in a position to fight that threat.
On Tuesday, delegates from both sides remained at their hotel in the capital Khartoum, refusing to come to the bargaining table for a second day.
Islamists have also objected to Kenya as co-chair of the meetings, saying Kenya is not neutral and supports the presence of foreign troops in Somalia.
Kenya was set to co-chair with the Arab League, as part of its responsibilities as president of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development.
Rina Kristmoen, an observer from the Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi, told VOA that most diplomats were hoping the talks would begin soon.
“It’s important that the parties meet, that they continue the dialogue and continue to try to find a solution and try to find peace in Somalia,” said Kristmoen. “The deadlock is over protocol now. They are trying to decide who will chair the meeting. It’s not a very big issue. It’s a little bit unfortunate that it has taken so long to solve it.”