June 24, 2011

UN Needs To Wake Up In Somalia

Despite a gradual uptick in resources, Somali officials (and African leaders) understandably complain that the world still isn’t paying enough attention. Somalia’s new Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is one of them. Immediately upon his appointment, Ali warned the international community through his press corps, “Availing of the opportunity I call the international community and the Somali people - especially the Diaspora not to neglect my new government.”

Except this problem goes beyond a low awareness for Somalia’s crisis - the UN literally needs to pay attention to what’s happening on the ground.

During a short meeting in the Security Council, June President Noël Nelson Messone of Gabon) welcomed the June 9th Kampala Accord that overthrew Somalia’s former premier, Mohamed Adhullahi Mohamed. Under the piercing gaze of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Parliamentary Speaker of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), sacrificed the country’s most popular official in order to extend the TFG’s mandate through August 2012. Having pressured for a national election, Aden counter-demanded a number of high-ranking positions within Parliament. Ahmed resisted and was eventually forced to drop an infuriated Mohamed, who had become wise to the entire scheme and refused to take part.

The episode renewed Somalia’s bitter taste for foreign intervention and jeopardized Uganda’s credibility, a dangerous gamble when it provides 5,000 of the 8,000 AU troops in Mogadishu. Officials and analysts also decried the UN for being out of touch with Somalia’s political environment, specifically Special Representative Augustine Mahiga. Nevertheless, the Security Council “urged signatories to the Kampala Accord to honor their obligations,” and “reiterated the need for a comprehensive strategy... through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.”

The Kampala Accord, as of now, isn’t that strategy. Not until Aden is removed from it.

While Ali may provide a smooth transition between Prime Ministers, most problems in the TFG remain jammed on political or personal obstacles: Ahmed and Aden still oppose each other personally, Aden operates on a personal agenda, and the Kampala Accord is viewed as a homegrown case of colonialism. We speculated that Adan may not win his next battle against a premier, and this outcome is now shaping up in a series of motions against the Speaker. Ali was a close ally of Mohamed and wouldn’t have accepted his post without the intention of challenging Aden.

Somalia’s new Prime Minister enjoys the popular and parliamentary cover to do so. Although the UN’s statement chose the wrong words in addressing the Kampala Accord, the Security Council is unwittingly pushing for this very resolution. This week more than 130 lawmakers met to discuss the re-opening of parliament, and, after blaming the four-month shutdown on Aden, warned that he will face legal consequences. On Thursday 157 members of Somalia parliament produced new motion against their Speaker “alleging power abuse and national treason.”

According to MP Mohamed Hussein, “This man [speaker] is selfish, he is unreliable. Look what he signed.” Hussein then showed RBC’s correspondent a copy of the Kampala Accord.

On Friday Awad Ahmed Ashareh, chairman of the parliamentary Information, Public Awareness, Culture and Heritage committee, said 165 MPs submitted a motion in Parliament opposing the accord but the Speaker refused to admit it. Visiting Nairobi for discussions with government officials, Ashareh condemned Aden for "violating the law of the parliament" and "committing crimes against the Somali population." For now MPs plan to meet next Monday - supposedly for a no confidence vote on Aden.

"June 27 will be a dooms day for parliamentarians or a bright day for them to acquire the trust and confidence of the Somalis, that is, if they shrug off the Kampala accord," Ashareh said.

Questions remain as to which parts need amending, or whether the entire document must be voided at the expense of a national accord. However the reward of grinding these issues out internally outweighs the risk of letting the Kampala Accord slide. Significant turbulence in the short-term is probable. Thus for the TFG to weather this storm, the international community must respond accordingly and support a growing political movement.

What good are Museveni’s troops if he turns Somalis against them?

No comments:

Post a Comment