Somalia peace process nears critical stage as election draws close
Laaska News Jan 30, 2012
by Ronald Ssekandi
ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — Efforts to end decades of war in Somalia are nearing a critical stage as the Horn of Africa country is to hold general elections in August.
Augustine Mahiga, UN Special Representative for Somalia, told Xinhua in an interview Saturday that the priority now is the drafting of a constitution, parliamentary reforms and the establishment of a Constituent Assembly that will approve the constitution.
All of those events have to occur before August when the country will hold parliamentary and presidential elections.
The elections were postponed last year to allow more preparation and also to consolidate military gains that have so far been made.
As the Somali election period nears, infighting between the executive and the parliament is threatening to reverse the successes so far made in trying to pacify the country.
Mahiga says that the bickering is an obstruction to the political process and a frustration to the security process.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula told Xinhua shortly after attending an African Union ministerial meeting on Somalia that the bickering must stop and the Somali leadership should consider the wishes of the people who are supporting them to pacify the country.
“They spend a lot of time and energy fighting each other at the expense of the real issues of their country,” Wetangula said. “We do believe they have listened to us and they have heard us and will act in accordance of the wishes of those who support them.”
Jerry Rawlings, Ghana’s former president and also the AU High Representative in Somalia, told Xinhua that the bickering is something that will be solved before the elections.
He was in Somalia recently to help end the standoff between government and parliament.
Rawlings said that there should be some form of local administration so that the people are given some powers to manage themselves. He said that would likely create stability.
He said traditional leaders must be involved in the peace process. “So long as we can enjoy this security provided by the military, we ought to be targeting some of the traditional leaders. They are very important people and I don’t think we have involved them as much as we should have done,” he said.
“I don’t think we have utilized their influence to the degree that could have given us a lot more sense of safety that is required,” he added.
At the military front, there have been successes and challenges. The Somali capital Mogadishu is now in full control of the Somali government troops and the AU force.
More troops from Kenya and Djibouti have joined the AU troops that are mainly from Uganda and Burundi.
However, there are some logistical problems that the AU forces face and they are likely to derail progress in fighting the militants.
Wetangula said that high on the priority list is ammunition, helicopters and money to pay the troops. More troops are also needed in the volatile country.
In a bid to drum up international support to end the Somalia crisis, the British government has organized a meeting in London on Feb. 23.
Jean Ping, chairperson of the AU Commission, said the London meeting is critical because it will set the direction and pace that the peace process in Somalia should take.
“The conference should set the bar on what to expect of the Somali political leadership and people, who must always be at the center of all our endeavors, and define our commitments in support of the peace process,” he told an AU ministers’ meeting on Somalia.
The AU summit that started here on Jan. 29 is likely to give impetus to the Somalia peace process.
The Somalia crisis ranks high on the agenda of the two-day African leaders’ meeting.
- AU expresses concern over Somalia’s TFP crisis (laaska.wordpress.com)
- Somalia has best chance for peace in years: UN envoy (laaska.wordpress.com)
- Somalia: UN envoy voices concern about parliamentary infighting – UN News (laaska.wordpress.com)