19 May 2007 04:25


SW News
  • Title: [SW News] (BBC FOCUS ON AFRICA) Interview With Mr. Hassan
  • Posted by/on:[AMJ][Thursday, August 31, 2000]



For the first time in 10 years, Somalis has had a new interim President. He is Abdiqasim Salad Hassan who is elected by the reconciliation conference of clan leaders and elders in Djibouti. He and some parliamentarians arrived back in Mogadishu yesterday into huge welcome of more than hundred thousand citizens and the backing of the business community and the Islamic Court militias. But the new leader faces opposition from the faction warlords currently in Yemen and the regions of Puntland and Somaliland who boycotted the Djibouti talks. On the line from Mogadishu, I asked Mr. Hassan how he would deal with the dissenting faction leaders: 

Mr. Hassan: I think the people of Somalia said clearly that they want peace. It is up to those gentlemen to follow the wish and the will of the people or to oppose. But as you know, the clan militia of those gentlemen was welcoming the delegation when we're coming into Mogadishu. 

BICKERTON: Do you think they will actually join you and abandon the faction leaders? 

Mr. Hassan: They already joined us by in the delegation. 

BICKERTON: There is not just the faction leaders, but places like Somaliland and Puntland in which do not accept that you were properly elected. Can you get them on board? 

Mr. Hassan: First of all Somalia is united, according to Somali people wish and to the international law. Those regions we call them the northwestern and northeastern regions. We want peace for those regions and we want development for them. The people of those regions came to the Arta conference, whether their traditional leaders, religious leaders, intellectuals, politicians. The representatives of the majority of those people were present at Arta. Therefore the outcome of that conference is according to the will and wish of the people of those regions. 

BICKERTON: There is some criticism, sir, that you were a Minster under the Siyad Barre regime and this whole think might represent return to what some might call the bad old days. 

Mr. Hassan: Igal himself served as an Ambassador, also as President of the Chamber of Commerce of Somalia. Therefore, during that period I was a Minster at one time. Everybody, including the intellectuals, businessmen or politicians served under that administration, because that was a national administration. There were elements who served their country faithfully, who are patriots. They deserve to lead the country in this period of difficulties, in order to overcome those difficulties. 

BICKERTON: Obviously there huge task ahead of you. How well do you hope to brink peace to the whole of Somalia, when all sorts of trouble; troubles around Kismayo, there is trouble by Ethiopian border in the Gedo region. How will you brink peace to the whole of Somalia? 

Mr. Hassan: There is no problem in Kismayo. Kismayo people today contacted me. They want me to go there. They're in peace. Also, the Gedo people come to me and invited me to go to Gedo and for any other regions. We are for dialogue which is in the Somali tradition. We demonstrated in Arta that no matter the time it takes and the expenses, Somalis agree when they sit together. It is in our tradition, it is in our religion, and it is part of the Somali culture. The traditions preserved by the community elders, by the religious leaders, not by warlords. Previous conferences in these 10 years was for warlords only and failed because everybody wanted to be President of Somalia. We gathered more 2500 people, or civil society. These are the people who traditionally sit together to solve their problems according to the Somali tradition. 

BICKERTON: Now on a practical level, this will cost an awful lot of money. Where are going to get it? 

Mr. Hassan: We Somalis have a tradition to sit under a tree, to eat what is available to us, camel milk or cow milk. We solve our problems that way. 

CHRIS BICKERTON: Somalia's new interim President A/qassim Salad Hassan 

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