19 May 2007 04:15

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  • [SW Country] Diakonia’s Proposal on Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict Prevention in Puntland. (JAJ response)  :Posted on [30 Mar 02]

Wednesday, 27 March 2002 

To:              Diakonia Nairobi office

            Nairobi.

To:       H.E. Kjell Harald Dalen

            Ambassador of Norway in Kenya

            Nairobi

To:       H.E. Ambassador Carlo Ungaro

            Italian Special Envoy for Somalia

            Nairobi.

To:             GLENN S.WARREN

            Political Officer

            U.S. Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya

To:       PER LINDGARDE

            Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission

            Embassy of Sweden

            Nairobi.

To:       EU Somali Unit

            Nairobi, Kenya

To:       UNDP Resident Representative

            Nairobi, Kenya

To:            Resource Persons Team 

Subject: Diakonia’s Proposal on Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict Prevention in Puntland.

 Dear Sirs;               

In reference with " Diakonia’s Proposal on a Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict prevention in Puntland", I’m pleased to appreciate the concern of Diakonia regarding the recent conflict in Puntland. On behalf of the legitimate government of Puntland and its people I’m extending my genuine gratitude to the governments of Sweden, USA, Italy and Norway for their determination to help our region morally and materially in pursuit of peaceful approach for overcoming the political crisis.  In response to a letter from Diakonia Country Director, requesting me to express my consent for a peace making initiative in Puntland which will be sponsored by Diakonia, I have already clarified my principled approval for any international and/or local initiative aimed to genuinely and appropriately facilitate peaceful management of the outstanding conflict in Puntland. On the other hand, I have raised several points highlighting our concerns in relation to the content of the final Project Document of Diakonia proposal. 

Because of our trust on Diakonia, we expected that the project would be revised. However, the working plan that have emerged from Nairobi workshop, resulted authentic abridge of the main document. Knowing that the degree of transparency and its participatory approach engaged are considered the basic ingredients for any conflict resolution, we find difficult to understand why the Final Project Document, like a classified material, had not been made Public. Our suspicions that the peace initiative might had been manipulated by certain pursuing their own vested interests, is becoming almost certain. It is peculiar that the final project document is not yet delivered to concerned parts, and moreover, even that majority of RPT are not even aware of the existence of such controversial document. 

The initial activities of the project, on the ground, have already become a subject of great controversy in Puntland. A team of Puntlanders, consisting of the participants of Nairobi Workshop and called Resource Persons Team (RPT), according the project document, have reached Bosaso on the 20th of March 02. The team is composed of personalities from Diaspora, representatives of local NGOs, and individuals from Puntland regions selected by workshop organisers. Based on official request from the "RPT" we received them at the presidential official in Bosaso. Members of the council and the speaker of the parliament of Puntland State of Somalia were present in the meeting. A group of 15 persons come the venue of the meeting and delivered to me a letter addressed to Jama Ali Jama, in disregard of the official status conferred to me and other state officials by the people. Instead of opening exchange of information and consultation between the authority in place and the peace mission, the group stated simply that they consist of peace emissaries and "intend to meet with the politicians from the two parts and the elders before embarking on mass mobilisation". We felt a sense of a new preoccupation, following the intensive mobilisation in Bosaso by "RPT", without waiting our position in regard to the initiative and its possible implications.

 The conflicting opinions and the sequences of the events surrounding the conception and start of the first phase of Diakonia sponsored peace initiative, convinced as to provide extensive comments on the initial formulation of the project, the content of project text and actual trend of its implementation. 

The parts in conflict and broader peace constituents in Puntland have not been consulted during the formulation of the project. Consequently, the perceptions of the stakeholders about the conflict, without excluding or giving preference to any part, and the complexity of the crises are not authentically reflected in the project document. According the understanding of the authors of the project, the present crisis of Puntland is defined as "Differences on Puntland constitutional issues between the traditional elders and the government."[1] 

Such definition of the current crises in Puntland could be the source of radical diversion of the peace initiative from its genuine purposes. In reality, the conflict is not a disagreement between the government and traditional elders, as presumed by the authors of the project document, but rather a manifested split between the state organs. On the one hand, a minority of the former council of ministries consisting the former president, vice-president and three ministries have deliberately violated the transitional charter, following the deliberation of the extension of the mandate of council of ministries and the parliament for another three years, beyond the expire date of 30 June 2001. 

On the other hand, the former chief Justice, overtake the responsibility of the state president beginning from st July 2001, basing the legitimacy of his decision on the provision of the art.34.2 of the transitional charter of Puntland. The article is among the un-amendable provisions in the charter and clearly states " if for any reason, the government fails to prepare the constitution the council of ministers and the parliament shall cease to exist, while the responsibility of the state president shall be transferred to the chief Justice, which in his turn shall call a general congress in 30 days for the regions which have founded Puntland in order to reach final decision"[2].  

The legal and political move of the former chief justice has been supported by six former ministries, out of eleven members of the council of ministries. The former ministries of the public works and livestock endorsed the stand of the chief Justice and were among the candidates for state president at the second constructional conference of Puntland (26 August – 14 November 2001), in Garowe. Similarly, the former minister of Social services was among the aspirants for the vice presidency. Moreover the former minister of interior has been overseeing the overall security of the conference, while the minister of Justice made a press release denouncing the extension, as an unconstitutional move. The former minister of planning and international cooperation has attended the conference as official delegates. Finally current vice-president of PSS is the former president of State Bank of Puntland In general, the attorney general and former commander of the territorial police were the only high ranking state officials which have sided with the former president of Puntland in his attempt to suppress the legitimate rights of the people of Puntland.  

The project recognises "the Traditional Elders, as the traditional, political and constitutional custodians of the Puntland State during the transitional period"[3], and as such "will mainly focus on creating a positive environment for conference of the elders of Puntland through lobbying and creating public opinions in favour of resolution of the crises"[4].  

The extreme emphasis on the role of traditional elders is subtle stratagem to deny any meaningful role to the principal real actors of the crisis, consisting deposed president of Puntland on one hand, and the elected authority from the second constitutional conference on the other hand.  The recently established parliament is also important actor in any peaceful settlement in Puntland, in their status as the legitimate representatives of the people. Members of the Puntland parliament have been selected from respective constituencies, like the former parliament, in conformity with the transitional charter. The first session of the House of Representatives started its business from 14 February 02 and is still underway. In the course of this session, the parliament has adopted the internal regulation and completed the election of its governing bodies i.e. the chairmanship, standing committees and the secretariat. 

By reducing the relevance of the two sides of the conflict the final aim is, probably, to shift the decisive role of the conflict resolution to the RPT, which is the principal actors of the initiative and the implementing agent of the project, according the project text. Accordingly, RPT will draft options of Resolutions to the elders for their final unilateral decision.  The implementing strategy of Project is quick fix approach to convene conference of the elders planed to take place in Garowe during the first week of April 02. The planned conference of the elders could become a new forum mandating itself to reach new resolution in disregard of the transitional Puntland Charter. To our understanding, the initiative is in substance, a stratagem for a new third option, which excludes the main actors of the conflict. 

The transitional charter of Puntland recognises role of the titled elders, however, it is difficult to recall past precedents whereby the elders had become initiators and promoters of any political setting of their own. It is dangerous to use the elders as rubber stamp for a pre-planed political agenda. In the event of such scenario, the prestige of the titled elders, as authority of last resort, will be undermined. We fairly suspect that, the options of resolutions to the elders are already in hand and will be kept secret (like the final Project Document) until such an event whereby the conference of the elders will be held and prepared to endorse the plan. 

From our side, we are not denying the positive role, which the elders could play in consolidating peace, healing legitimate grievances, promoting tolerance and confidence building, and mending workable political compromise between the opposing sides. We also feel the necessity to sort out existing differences between traditional elders. 

Further more, Puntland administration recognised and promotes the right of the grass root to mount pressure on all sides in the conflict to refrain from armed confrontation and openness for dialogue. Consequently, we welcome some components of the program, specifically those activities concerning peace campaigns and advancement of culture of peace, which has to be conducted by Local NGOs, on condition that their activities are totally disassociated from the current RPT core managing group of the program or by any other political circle/s, pursuing their own vested political interests. 

In order to clarify our position to our partners, we have decided to point out our general remarks regarding the above discussed peace initiative:

(i)                   In the first place, the immediate arrangement of conference of elders (or mini-conference), before attempting phased agenda of political settlement between the former president of Puntland and the existing legitimate state institutions could be counterproductive. From our side, we are kin to give high consideration as to any political mediation between official delegations headed respectively by former and current presidents, in the context of state constitutionality. Such approach needs appropriate groundwork and should be under the sponsorship of friendly state or states. Constitutional arbitration, concurrently with other approaches, with facilitation by international community in providing legal experts could be also considered among the important yardsticks for understanding and solving the crises. The former Chief justice, which was the main protagonist of the arrangement of the second constitutional conference, shall face the former president, at least during the first round of the arbitration. The facilitators of the legal arbitration could provide the terms of reference of the arbitration to both sides and seek to express their confidence on the mechanism and its executers.

(ii)                 The authors of the final project document, in their analysis of the different positions of the elders in relation to the reconciliation, signalled the existence of "An extremist group that holds there is no need for dialogue and reconciliation an that the conference outcome is legitimate; this group is thought to be closely allied with the TNG and fundamentalists"[5]. It is paradoxical that several notions in the project document, like the above excerpt, are synonymous with the baseless accusations of the former president and his supporters against Puntland and its legitimate authority. Such preposition in the project text is clear evidence that the initiative is far from being a neutral ground of solving existing crises. Consequently, we hope that Puntland people and our external partners will understand our justified lack of trust on such plan, in its present form. We feel the moral obligation to extend our apology to Sweden government, SIDA and Diakonia, in any case the genuine support to end the conflict in Puntland are being used for opposite purposes.

(iii)                Resource persons are classically defined as people with proven high skill and expertise in dealing with specific subject of concern. The sponsors of current conflict resolution program did not give serious consideration to the above criteria in selecting the majority of RPT members. Moreover, local Resource Persons in the team include well-known close associates of the former president of Puntland.

 To conclude, we suggest reviewing the peace initiative through inter-active consultation with all stakeholders including grass root sectors of the society. If the program advances further along its present from, we afraid that it might jeopardise the existing fragile stability. Once again, we reaffirm our commitment to peacefully resolve the political crises in Puntland. 

With the assurance of my highest consideration; 

Sincerely yours;  

Mr. Jama Ali Jama

President of Puntland State of Somalia


 [1]Peace, Reconciliation and conflict prevention in Puntland, Diakonia Project Document; Nairobi, February 02, P5.

[2]Transitional Charter, Puntland State of Somalia; 1998, Garowe

[3]Diakonia project Document; P.20

[4]ibd. P.5

[5]ibid; p16


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