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  • [SW Country] ( DGPL) PUNTLAND POSITION  ON PEACE AND NATIONAL RECONCILIATION IN SOMALIA   :Posted on 26 May 2002

 

DAWLADDA PUNTLAND EE SOOMAALIYA

PUNTLAND STATE OF SOMALIA 

Xafiiska Madaxweynaha                                                                                          Office Of The President

 

29 September 2000                                                   MW/DPS/PLPP-9/2000

  

PUNTLAND POSITION  ON PEACE AND 

NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

IN SOMALIA 

 

INTRODUCTION  

Puntland State of Somalia (PSS) has always played a leading role in the Somali National Reconciliation Process and in all efforts to re-establish a National Government that restores unity, integrity and respect to the Somali nation. The people of Puntland made great deal of sacrifice for nearly 8 years of waiting for a national resolution before they had to come to terms with post-Siad Barre and civil war political realities that required massive confidence-building and thorough review of the system of government in Somalia.

In spite of its strong commitment to national reconciliation, Puntland State has not taken part in the Djibouti sponsored "Somali peace and reconciliation process" as it disagreed with the Djibouti Government on all the approach, principles, participation, agenda and procedure of the whole process. Similarly, many Somali regions, political organizations and leaders declined to participate the "Arta Conference" mainly for the same reasons.  

Specifically, agreements were reached in writing with President Guelleh himself and his Foreign Minister on the terms and conditions Puntland would partake in the Djibouti Process. This followed the arrival of a Djibouti delegation in Garowe in May, 2000. It was on the basis of these agreements that Puntland sent a delegation consisting of 21 senior Elders and a government delegation led by the Puntland State vice-president. The agreed single objective of the Puntland delegation was CONSULTATION on timing of the proposed conference and modalities of selecting conference delegates from the regions and districts. Djibouti changed course, decided to select delegates in Djibouti and broke the agreement with Puntland. The Puntland delegation of Elders and government returned deeply offended and disappointed. The differences between the sponsoring Djibouti government and Puntland State Government proved irreconcilable. 

We hasten to state clearly that Puntland State has no personal complaint against the brotherly people and the nation of Djibouti. Any differences, criticisms and complaints refer only to the partiality, mismanagement and fraudulent outcome of the "Arta Process" stage managed by the present Djibouti Government.

FACTS ABOUT PUNTLAND STATE OF SOMALIA

Puntland is stable, peaceful, self-governing regional State with a well functioning public administration firmly in place. It consists of 5 of the 18 Somalia regions and contains over one-third of the land surface and one-fourth of the population of the Republic of Somalia. The 2-year Old State has democratic constitution, elected State President, Legislative Council and independent Judiciary. Within its limited resources, it undertakes to promote justice, good governance, and to protect human rights and the environment in Puntland.

 S was the outcome of 8 painful years of quiet deliberations on the failures of all efforts on national reconciliation and the need for local political and administrative structures in Puntland. A series of Consultative and Constitutional Conferences attended by 600 representatives of these 5 regions of Puntland took place over a period of 12 months from October 1997 to August 1998. These representatives from all sectors of Puntland society came together and jointly established, on their free will, the Puntland State of Somalia on 1st August 1998.

PSS is an integral part of the Somali Republic and strongly stands for the preservation of the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Somalia. It urges and appeals to the national and international communities to respect and uphold these fundamental principles. Our regional State has been ready to be one of the first pillars of a National Federal government, which should be all-inclusive, equitable and democratic that is untainted by involvement and influence of former dictatorial regime or by religious extremists. 

In Puntland we have succeeded in establishing the basic government institutions, and enacted laws that guarantee the basic human rights and protect the environment. We have succeeded in banning the burning of wood for charcoal production for export, which was widely practiced before my government came to office. We have also banned the export of wild life from areas in my government's jurisdiction. We have removed from Puntland Territorial Waters an estimated 3000 foreign vessels that illegally fished in our waters, or engaged in illegal activities like toxic waste dumping. In the 2 years my government has been in office, we have created a civil service and law enforcement force of nearly seven thousand (7,000) men and women that oversee the smooth functioning of our institutions. We have scheduled an election in mid 2001 when the term of 3-year interim period will end.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DJIBOUTI/ARTA PROCESS  

 The Djibouti/Arta Process sponsoring government of Djibouti, organizers of the event and the Office of the UN Secretary General, which was acting as advisor to President Guelleh on the process, made frequent claims that participants were from the civil society; that clan elders from all regions of Somalia supported the proceedings, that the process was democratic, that both "parliament and President" were chosen legally and that the Arta outcome was legitimate. The truth is vastly different:  

1.     The "Arta Conference" participants were not elected by the civil society and administrations in the districts and regions of the country - a pledge first made by the sponsoring Djibouti President but later disregarded. Therefore, they were not legitimate representatives of the Somali people.  

2.     Clan elders were invited before the actual conference started and they were specifically to advise President Guelleh on (a) the timing of the start of the conference and (b) methods of selection of participants from the districts and regions. The majority of elders advised to delay the opening of the conference to allow sufficient time for delegate distribution and their election by their respective constituencies in the regions. Djibouti government refused to consider these proposals of the elders.  

3.     The election of the so-called "Parliament" and "President" in Djibouti can neither be democratic nor legal when the participants of the "Arta Conference" are not democratically or legally elected from their respective constituencies. In fact, many of the “participants”, especially those supposedly from Puntland, rejected the “Arta Charter” which they said ignored the agreed principle of agreement by consensus. 

 4.     The people who gathered in Djibouti for the "Conference", mostly consisting of religious fundamentalists and remnants of the butchers of the discredited Siyad Barre regime and who are directly responsible for the Somali tragedy itself, were largely self-appointed, hand-picked by Djibouti and without any official mandate by the Somali communities who were not given the chance to choose them. Such impostors were the participants of the "Arta Peace and Reconciliation Conference "!  

5.     To further complicate the subject, the Djibouti government rejected all advice from Puntland, Somaliland and other political and traditional leaders and from the international community on ways and means to make the process more practical, democratic and equitable. It is a common knowledge that the Djibouti government excluded important Somali, regional and international actors from the process for reasons only known to itself.  

6.     The "Arta Peace and Reconciliation Process" was, thus, undemocratic, unrepresentative and illegal. It was neither transparent nor all-inclusive and its outcome is unacceptable.  

BARRIERS TO NATIONAL RECONCILIATION:  

Puntland State government maintains that the main obstacles to national reconciliation agreement and its effective implementation has been largely due to fear and distrust among the Somali communities as the bared nerves of the brutal civil war are still raw and festering. This deep-rooted fear and distrust needs to be overcome first. Indeed, the UN Secretary General, in his August 16, 1999 Report to the Security Council, pointed out that the present Somali conflict was not over religious and ethnic divide or dispute over natural resources. "Rather ...it is divided on clan lines with each clan fearful of the incursions of others" he wrote.

 The UN Secretary General continued that "the crucial missing ingredient is trust. Without trust, there can be no peace or security in Somalia and no central government can be re-established".  

These sensitivities, the discrediting failures of the past, public distrust of endless political processes that embrace the participation of criminals, extremists, warlordism, clanism and unqualified and illegitimate participants must take into consideration in any new pragmatic approach for national peace and reconciliation process. We believe that the most feasible proposition to finding a lasting solution is, thus, through the "building blocks" approach from "bottom-up" process leading to a highly decentralized system of government in Somalia.  

The Djibouti government ignored this vital approach. It rather embarked on a series of contradictory and conflicting actions: while Somalis and foreign observers agree that clanism, which should be de-institutionalized, is a divisive curse to be shunned, Djibouti insists it is a uniting cure for the Somalis and helped spread its infection even farther. As the vast majority of Somalis agree to adopt a Federal system of government for trust-building and regional development, Djibouti opted for a highly "centralized system of government through top-down process". It also denies the existence and status of the established self-governing regional States of Puntland and Somaliland which they and the "Arta Group” want dismantled and destabilized rather than at least considering them to be the foundation of a decentralized national state.  

Another weird anomaly is the over-optimistic confidence that Djibouti government reposes in leaders who have abjectly failed to promote local conflict resolution and build local administrations in their own constituencies for the past 10 years. Can such personalities be expected to resolve more complex and intractable national strife? 

The PSS government is deeply concerned of what the unholy alliance of fundamentalists, Siad Barre renegades, and warlords and society misfits at Arta portend for Somalia. This new Djibouti/Arta Group is aggressive. Both its pronouncements and its actions on the ground are cause for anxiety. The attacks and provocative statements of the “Arta Group” leader, Abdiqasim Salaad Boy, made in Mogadishu and Cairo, among others, that he did "not recognize Puntland or Somaliland or any 'land' ...with a new colonialism behind them that aims to break Somalia into mini states" are clear indication of the aggressive intentions of the new “Arta Group”. Such statements and the fact that a large one-clan militia force being formed in Mogadishu are realities that risk to plunge Somalia into renewed civil war. Fightings causing nearly 100 deaths in the Benadir region and Mogadishu since the Arta outcome are alleged to be direct result of the Arta outcome itself.

 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS  

International mediation efforts at Somali national reconciliation failed 12 times in the past. The 13th attempt at Djibouti/Arta is also destined to fail, as it is presently constituted. Many less publicized and less costly local regional endeavors over the years have produced more successful results in peace-making among many communities and in the establishment of regional administrations. We believe that there are very few people, if at all, who have the will, trust and commitment to organize or fund a 14th National Reconciliation Conference. A more realistic and creative approach is required.  

A new process must be fully Somali owned and address the real and priority concerns of the Somali people. It should be well planned and based on certain fundamental principles.

 The right approach, in our view, is to start institution-building from the grass roots’ level where the local and regional administrations could more realistically cope with the vital and complex questions of peace, stability, self-reliance and development.

In the light of the past discouraging experiences, in view of the sensitivities and the need for greater confidence building discussed above, the Puntland State government proposes a new initiative with different approach and composed of 4-phases:  

PHASE-1:  

A local peace-making and conflict resolution process would be undertaken by Somalis with contributions of logistical assistance by the international organizations working in Somalia as they have some form of presence in most regions of the country. The local process would target areas and regions in crisis to resolve clan conflicts, religious extremist threats and forceful and illegal occupation of other communities' territories. During this phase, a political, legal and traditional Action Plan would be put in place for the unconditional return of illegally seized, looted or occupied public and private property and assets to their rightful owners. 

A joint Somali and international community severe sanctions would be taken against aggressors, detractors and violators obstructing these activities.  

PHASE-2:

To support the completion of the continuing process of Building Blocks and the establishment of regional self-governing States which is in line with the principle of decentralization and inter-community trust-building. It would also lay a solid foundation for a Federal System of Government in Somalia on which system the majority of Somalis agree. This process could, in part, develop in parallel with PHASE-1. The relatively simple, effective, unique, legitimate and unionist process that Puntland went through in establishing its State serves as a practical example.  

PHASE-3:  

On the realization of PHASES 1 and 2, the elected legitimate leaders of all the regional self-governing States would meet in a National Conference to discuss modalities of forming a National Federal Government at the earliest convenient time, possibly within a period of 6 to 12 months.

PHASE-4:  

During the transitional 6 to12 months period, the leaders of the self-governing States of the day and one interim representative from other zones, chosen on certain creditable criteria, would form a National Care-taker Council to act as the custodians of national unity and sovereignty and for the coordination of regional and national policies as well as to represent Somalia at international forums. As new zonal States are established, their leaders would automatically join the Council replacing the interim representatives of their respective zones.

 The Puntland State Government would be ready to elaborate all these ideas and submit more detailed proposals on necessary mechanisms to organize and implement these processes. It is our considered opinion that this proposition for a durable solution to the Somali national crisis in a consistent and gradual steps deserves serious consideration.  

We have learnt a bitter, unforgettable and useful lesson from the experience of our barbarous civil war: to concentrate our energies and resources on the creation and maintenance of efficient local institutions rather than blind dependence on a centralized state and government. 

t should, perhaps, be added that, under the prevailing difficult political and security conditions in the country, the most the “Arta Group” could contribute is to reign/control their untenable national ambitions and, instead, limit themselves in assisting community and political leaders in the Benadir region with conflict resolution and regional institution building.  

Surely, personalities who failed to make peace and reconciliation in their own constituencies cannot be expected to resolve the more complex and intractable national strife.

 

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed

Puntland State President,

Garowe, Puntland State of Somalia


 

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