Saudi Arabia invites Somali leaders for mediation


The invitation to Somalia’s president, prime minister and parliament speaker comes ahead of a debate among the country’s lawmakers over when Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi’s 30-month mandate should expire.

The debate is the latest row between Gedi and President Abdullahi Yusuf, who have rarely worked in tandem and whose disagreements are widely seen as hindering the work of their interim government.

"The president, the prime minister, the speaker, will meet in Saudi Arabia," Gedi’s spokesman said.

He said Gedi was expected to travel there later on Wednesday from Addis Ababa where he is meeting African Union and Ethiopian officials and diplomats. It was not immediately clear if Yusuf or Speaker Sheikh Adan Madobe had agreed to go.

Saudi Arabia gave Gedi a sizeable sum of money earlier this year to help him resolve government disputes.

Gedi and Yusuf, who both came to power with Ethiopian support in late 2004 at peace talks in Kenya, have feuded almost from the start over issues such as how to divide donor contributions.

Their rift widened earlier this year as the two men backed different concerns interested in exploiting Somalia’s potential oil resources.

Separately, in the capital Mogadishu, eight people died on Wednesday when a bus hit a landmine meant for a police vehicle, barely a day after unknown people attacked Ugandan African Union (AU) peacekeepers, wounding several near the Mogadishu port.

"Eight died and seven were seriously injured. The driver, the conductor and two passengers survived. The landmine was targeted at a police battle wagon, but it escaped undamaged," Sadia Ali, a witness, told Reuters.

Three of the Ugandan soldiers were flown to Nairobi, Kenya for treatment on Wednesday, Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for the AU force, said.

"Our positions at the seaport and the central prison were attacked yesterday. Unfortunately three of our soldiers were injured. They have just been flown to Nairobi for treatment," he said.

"We are not intimidated and we are not going to leave our position. Our belief is the peacekeepers should not be attacked."

Islamist-led rebels attack the government and its Ethiopian military allies almost daily, and the AU peacekeepers also come under fire.


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