, NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 1 – A Somalia paramilitary group fighting Al-Shabaab alongside the Transitional Federal Government has dismissed as a “waste of time” the Somalia conference underway in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Head of the Political Section of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa, Abdisalan Adan Hussein, said key stakeholders including the group, were not invited to the decisive talks.
“We were not formally invited. There are other stakeholders who are crucial and they were not invited,” Hussein said, adding “we will reject the resolutions.”
Hussein told Capital FM News that although the Kenyan government formally asked the group to attend the meeting, the top leadership of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa had resolved to stay away.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga left Kenya at dawn on Friday for the talks. The PM is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri and Northern Kenya Minister Mohammed Elmi.
The two-day conference in Istanbul is being attended by representatives from 54 nations who are gathering to find a lasting solution to the Somalia crisis.
In Nairobi, Hussein said: “Other stakeholders were invited long time ago… how can we be told to attend when the meeting is almost finished. We will not go there.”
“We wish to express disappointment in the ongoing talks in Istanbul. Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa is central and strategic in searching for peace in Somalia. Unfortunately, we were not invited to the talks,” he said.
He said some of the ‘stakeholders’ attending the meeting are in fact imposters.
“Some imposters posing as representatives of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa are attending the peace talks,” he said in denouncing their representation. “We wholesomely condemn their participation.”
He said the meeting and its representation do not represent the wishes of the people of Somalia.
“Therefore, we will not accept the so called resolution that will be passed during the ongoing conference,” he said and urged the Turkish government to stop dealing with imposters representing the group at the conference.
The meeting that kicked off on Thursday is aimed at spearheading a global reconstruction effort to back up the ongoing effort to stabilise the Horn of Africa nation that has been at war for two decades.
The meeting is a follow up of the February London conference when world leaders, officials, experts and businessmen gathered to build a peace foundation in the war torn nation.
The Turkish foreign ministry has indicated that the Istanbul conferences’ main objective is to come up with the vision and goals for 2012.
Kenyan Defence Forces were recently rehatted to AMISOM after crossing into the Southern part of Somalia in October last year and are now advancing to their key target in Kismayu.