19 May 2007 04:24


SW News
  • Title: [SW News](THE ION  #912 - 15/07/00) SOMALIA : Making do and mending
  • From:[]
  • Date :[24 July 2000]

SOMALIA : Making do and mending

Hailed by the United Nations as the country's last chance for salvation, the reconciliation conference on Somalia that's been dragging on in Arta (Djibouti) for two and a half months gives every impression of an exercise in 'make do and mend'. Several advisers of Somali faction chiefs (Awaleh, the legal adviser Abdulkader Gabyow and Mrs. Asha Haji Elmi)have been playing important roles in the conference corridors and some faction chiefs bent but unbowed, such as Ali Mahdi and recently Ahmed Omar Jess, have been welcomed warmly in Djibouti. Arta delegates include many senior officials of the regime of late president Siad Barre who like him were too compromised and chose a golden exile in Scandinavia or in the Americas at the beginning of the 1990s.

As the conference is supposed to wind up before the end of July by nominating a Somalian president, a prime minister, perhaps even a parliament, the earlier face-saving unanimity has now splintered. The question raising the most hackles is nomination of a president. His profile has been roughly sketched by delegates: he must hold a university degree and must not have been directly implicated in the civil war (this kayo's Ali Mahdi) so for the moment, the post seems likely to be filled from the Hawiye tribe and his prime minister from the Darod. Apparently leading the pack for the prime minister's job is conference chairman Hassan Abshir Farah (Darod/Mejertein/Issa Mahmud), an army field officer under Barre who joined SSDF in the early 1980s before moving to an official post in Mogadiscio until the regime collapsed in 1991. Several Hawiye candidates are in the running for president including Abdullahi Ahmed Addow (Hawiye/Habr Gedir/Saad), a minister under Barre who insists on having been independent all too passively of the late general Mohamed Farah Aideed, on having support in the United States where he was once ambassador (lawyer Stuart Deming looks after lobbying for him, ION 872). He has already asked his clan businessmen for contributions. His principal rival is Abdi Qassem Salad Hassan (Habr Gedir/Ayr), another one of the Siad Barre regime but who was an active opponent of general Aideed and probably the veritable ideas man behind the Arta conference. He has support from his sub-clan's businesmen, who are also some of the principal interlocutors of Djibouti businessman Abdurahman Boreh, close to head of state Ismail Omar Gelleh. Other 'candidates' appearing briefly on the scene at one time or another included another figure from the Barre regime Osman Mohamed Jeele (Hawadle), Abdullahi Osoble Siyad, Gamadhere, and two Abgals.

All this competition has sparked debate on the terms for designating Somalia's future president. Abdi Qassem, who has woven a cunning web of good relations with all clans, wants an election by conference delegates, but Abdullahi Addow, who doesn't enjoy the same dazzling support, is pushing for election by parliament which itself would be designed on regional lines, not clan lines. This subtly shaded distinction would probably give an edge to the Darod and widen the number of Addow supporters. Nothing is really settled and other scenarios may well crop up if continued competition splits the conference too much, though for its official promoter, president Ismail Omar Gelleh, the first priority is to save face. In any case and even in the event of agreement, there's nothing to say that conference decisions made in Arta (and already been shot to ribbons by the authorities in Puntland and Somaliland, not to mention by some Mogadiscio warlords) will lead to initial application in Somalia. Worse still, if the government cocktail shaken in Arta contains a clever mixture of pre-1990 government teams, it's clear it will be rejected by many Somalis and any attempt to impose such a government will light a deadly fuse even in zones which are calm today. That would be a curious but sad ending for a reconciliation conference.

Copyright 2000 Indigo Publications . Reproduction and dissemination prohibited (photocopy, mailing lists, intranet, web, etc.) without written permission of the editor.


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