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WHY SOMALIA RECONCILIATION CONFERENCES FAILED PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 May 2011 01:48

Here is why reconciliation conferences convened to offer peace and hope in Somalia and bring together the warring factions in the troubled country hit a snag, much to the chagrin of Africa and the international community.

After Somali movements which had started their struggle on clan basis geared towards revenge in a move grounded on hatred, they overthrew the military regime in Somalia for lack of a national vision and political agenda.

Lack of patriotic and national aspirations led to secession of North West regions and disbandment of the national army by the interim Prime Minister Omar Arta Galib, who instructed the Somali military to hand over their arms to these clan-oriented movements.

This had jeopardized the national unity and ignited clan civil war in the strife-racked Horn of Africa nation.

The first reconciliation conference was held in D'jibouti in July 1991 and which had created Mohammed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi of the United Somali Congress faction, to fight inside Mogadishu, whereby the United Somali party was refrained from participating in the conference by the D'jibouti government and the organizers of the symposium.

Also, the D'jibouti government and the organizers of the conference declared to wage war against the remnants of the Siad Barre regime, widely seen as a reincarnation of the clan of Siad Barre.

Although this conference took place, the civil war gathered momentum and resulted into the deaths of thousands, internal displacement of millions and millions of refugees too.

At this juncture, some of the Somali clans concluded that the government of the D'jibouti was taking sides.

On December 28, 1992, to January 4, 1993, an informal meeting for Somali factions was held in Addis Ababa, which paved the way for the convention of the reconciliation conference in Addis Ababa in March 1993.

This conference deliberated on the establishment of a National Transitional Government after the establishment of the Transitional National Assembly.

The conference communique, at the same time, stipulated the establishment of the following committees:

1. committee for drafting the transitional constitution

2. committee for disarmament, demobilization, de mining and rehabilitation of the factional militias

3. committee for economic recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development

4. committee for resettlement and retaining of properties to the rightful owners

5. committee for reconciliation and human rights

Also, the conference underscored the set up of regional and district councils.

Unisom embarked on a move to establish these councils but unfortunately, after establishment of 57 district councils out of 92 districts and 8 regional councils out of 18, Unisom abandoned Somalia and even carted off the vehicles and other equipments to Rwanda.

Addis Ababa reconciliation conferences failed due to the mismanagement of Unisom, differences between Cairo and Addis Ababa and clan power struggles.

In 1997, a unilateral reconciliation conference was held in Sordere, Ethiopia in which all clan factions participated with an exception of the Hussein Aideed-led group which was engaged in fighting with RRA's regions of Bakol and Bay regions.

In this conference, the participants agreed to convene reconciliation conferences in Bossaso, Eastern region of Somalia.

This conference was derailed by Cairo which brought Hussein Aideed and Ali Mahdi together in Sharma Sheikh Egypt, and later on invited the other factions in November 1997.

This conference failed when the Egyptians tried to make Ali Mahdi the President of Somalia and Hussein Aideed the Prime Minister.

Being both from the same clan, other factions rejected this form of power sharing.

This led to the establishment of Punt land in August 1998. In June 2000, the D'jibouti sponsored the Arta reconciliation conference in which most of the factional warlords and Punt land were excluded.

In that conference, the civil society were the leading groups and Abdi Kassim who was elected as the President , accordingly appointed Ali Galeya as the Prime Minister.

As soon as the government moved to Mogadishu, the factional warlords resisted and prevented the government to expand and extend its authority in the capital and in the regions.

No sooner had the Prime Minister and the President been embroiled in a conflict that initiated the parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in the government of Ali Galeya, a death knell was sounded on his administration, and alas, the downfall of the government occurred!

The President appointed Hassan Abshir Farah as the Prime Minister to succeed Ali Galeya.

In October 2002, Kenya extended invitation to the Transitional National Government headed by Hassan Abshir, the then Prime Minister plus the National Transitional Parliament, regional administrations and warlords.

On October 14, 2002, the Eldoret Somali Reconciliation conference commenced, and was officially opened by the retired Kenyan President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi who ruled Kenya for a total of 24 years in an unbroken record yet. Eldoret which is located in the expansive Rift Valley province of Kenya, East Africa, is Moi's home town.

In Eldoret town, deliberations of the conference which was chaired by the late Elijah Mwangale (a former cabinet minister), centred on cessation of hostilities and establishment of six committees.

The committees were:

1. Committee for drafting the charter

2. Committee for economic recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development

3. Committee for regional and international relations

4. Committee for resettlement and retaining of properties to the rightful owners (private or public).

5. Committee for disarmament, decommissioning, demobilization, de mining and integration and rehabilitation of militia

6. committee for conflict resolution

The first phase of this conference was held in Eldoret town, while the second phase which was on the approval of the reports of the six committees took place in Nairobi- Kenya's capital city, under the chairmanship of career diplomat Bethwel Kiplagat.

Mwangale- a creature of Moi's political establishment per excellence, had already been phased out of the symposium's stewardship after the expiry of Moi's term way back in 2003.

After President Mwai Kibaki took over the reigns of power, he appointed Kiplagat as chair of the reconciliation conference.

The third phase was accomplished in Nairobi in which 275 Members of parliament were nominated on August 22, 2004.

Subsequently, the parliament elected the Speaker, two deputies and other officials.

On October 14, 2004, Abdullahi Yusuf was elected by the Somali parliament as the President.

Then the President appointed Mr Ali Gedi as the Prime Minister.

Ali Gedi formed his cabinet who included factional leaders and warlords.

Although the Prime Minister put on board the warlords, conflicts broke into the surface between the Speaker and the warlords on the one hand, and the President and the Prime Minister on the other.

The Speaker and the warlords moved to Mogadishu- the capital city, while the President and the government relocated to Gohar, in the middle Shabelle region.

The conflicts between the two centres of power was resolved through mediation by Yemen and the Somali Members of parliament led by the distinguished Honourable Awad Ahmed Ashareh in Aden, Yemen in January 2006. This led to the agreement of relocating the parliament and the government to Baidoa, Bay region.

In early 2007, the Islamic Courts fought the warlords supported by the CIA inside Mogadishu, while the Transitional government was negotiating with the Islamic Courts under the auspices of the Arab League in Khartoum, Sudan.

Sadly, these initiatives for dialogue ended in vain after the Islamic Courts got misled by the misconception that they could have the whole of Somalia in their hands!

In parallel with this, President Abdulahi Yusuf and his Prime Minister did also disagree at some stage over the tendency by Abdulahi Yusuf to seek more authority which, curiously, was not legislated in the charter.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2011 01:54
Written by Diirad Desk