19 May 2007 04:14


SW News
  • Title: [SW News] (AFP) Support wanes further for Djibouti's plan for peace in Somalia
  • From:[]
  • Date :[24 March 2000]

Support wanes further for Djibouti's plan for peace in Somalia


by Ali Musa Abdi

NAIROBI, March 24 (AFP) - President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti on Friday received another blow to his ambition to restore peace to Somalia when two important groups added their voice to a growing body of naysayers.

Following a conference in Addis Ababa, Somalia's allied Digil and Mirifle clan families, present in south central regions, resolved "to withdraw support of the ongoing Djibouti peace initiative," according to a fax received by AFP in Nairobi.

This decision was taken "because it is unacceptable to our community to participate and sit (at the same) table with the forceful occupiers of (our) ancestral land who killed, tortured and intimidated the innocent civilans of the community," the fax added.

While the conference brought together "different groups of civil society... i.e. businessmen, politicians, intellectuals, community elders, religious leaders, women and youth," the fact that it was able to announce the merger of two important armed groups -- the Rahanwein Resistance Army and the Digil Salvation Army -- illustrates the extent to which Somalia's civilian and warring sectors overlap within ethnic boundries.

Guelleh's plan, which enjoys considerable support from the international community, differs from its dozen precursors in giving more emphasis to civilian society than to the warlords who ruled the country since the collapse of a central government in 1991. "What a lot of people don't understand is that this is not another power-sharing agreement for faction leaders," UN envoy for Somalia David Stephen said of the plan, which enjoys the express support of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The Arab League, the Organisation of African Unity and the east African regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development also back Guelleh's initiative. "There have been 12 failed agreements between faction leaders so far, so this is an attempt to get something more lasting by mobilising elements of society other than faction leaders," Stephen said in an interview with a UN information service, IRIN.

The first step in Guelleh's plan is to host a conference in Djibouti on April 20 which is due to appoint a Somali parliament charged with naming a president. On Thursday, authorities in Somalia's self-declared autonomous state of Puntland withdrew their support for the plan and accused Guelleh of "hijacking the Somali peace process from the very rightful people whose fate and destiny was being decided: the Somalis." The move followed a similar decision by leaders of Somaliland, which declared independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991.

The leaders have said they would regard as "traitors" anyone attending the Djibouti conference. Like the rest of the world, Guelleh's plan does not recognise the separation of these two entities in the north of the country.

Somali warlords who have said they will boycott the April meeting include Musa Sudi Yalahow, who controls southwest Mogadishu's enclave of Madina, his arch-rival Hussein Mohamed Aidid, and Osman Hassan Ali "Atto".

"As the legitimate leader of southwest Mogadishu and affiliated areas, I cannot discuss peace or power-sharing with remnants of the former government and failed warlords," Yalahow the Abgal leader said, apparently failing to grasp the fact the Guelleh wants "civil society", not warlords to enjoy the impetus for change.

Somalis would argue that Guelleh does not appreciate the strength of clan ties linking these two sectors. There are nevertheless pockets of support for the Djiboui plan within Somalia.

Warlord Hussein Haji Bod has called it a "milestone to the foundation of united democratic Somalia." North Mogadishu strongman Ali Mahdi Mohamed told AFP on Friday that the April conference was a "golden opportunity (which) should not be abandoned for greedy motives."

Meanwhile, wheels were already turning in Djibouti, where on Tuesday Guelleh opened a "symposium on means of implementation" attended by some 60 Somali intellectuals who are meant to put flesh on the bones of his initiative.

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