Auditors to probe books for Somalia peace talks

Auditors are investigating the accounts of Somalia peace talks following allegations of embezzlement.

Millions of shillings donors gave for the talks, which started in Eldoret late last year, are reported to have been misappropriated.

Sources at the conference said the auditors from a renowned private firm were on Friday busy at the Sirikwa Hotel, the venue of the talks, scrutinising the statements of accounts.

“They came in the morning, catching everybody at the secretariat unawares,” the source said.

The auditors are said to have been sent by donors, who include the European Union, the US, Canada, the Arab League, Norway, Italy and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Partners Forum.

Early last week, the technical committee secretariat, hoteliers and transporters complained that they had not been paid their dues and allowances for months.

At the same time, hoteliers said they had not been paid and threatened to stop catering for the 500-plus delegates.

Kenya's Special Envoy for Somalia, Dr Bethwel Kiplagat, on Wednesday pleaded with the hoteliers to continue catering for the delegates and promised to solve their problem by the end of Friday.

But the ambassador had not met the hoteliers by Friday evening as he was busy receiving reports from six committees appointed to discuss core issues that could end the 12-year-old war in Somalia.

Sources said the auditors would also focus on hotel expenditures for the delegates.

Hotels in Eldoret have recorded good business since the talks started on October 15 last year, as some of the delegates are meeting their own expenses.

Last December, the 10 major hotels hosting the conference were paid Sh80 million as part payment of the first phase of the talks.

There are plans to transfer the talks to Nairobi in an effort to cut down the number of delegates and reduce costs.

Although donors are said to have spent large sums for the talks, which are the 14th of their kind to help find peace for Somalia, not much progress has been reported.

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