Preparations continue for Sunday’s reconciliation conference in Somalia, but analysts are saying it may be doomed to failure because not all parties involved in the conflict and political turmoil are taking part. The meeting is sponsored by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Timothy Othieno is a senior researcher for the Institute for Global Dialogue in Midrand, South Africa. He says the situation in Somalia could actually worsen if Sunday’s conference is held. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the legitimacy of the reconciliation meeting.
“To me…this so-called conference, reconciliation conference, is a big farce. For one in the sense that it’s not inclusive. And secondly, it’s actually going to upset the dynamics on the ground in Somalia for the very reason that the Hawiye clan, one of the major clans, is not partaking in that conference, as well as the (Union of) Islamic Courts…that gives room for other elements to exploit that situation on the ground. We have now seen the Hawiye claiming that they want to rule. This basically goes back to the fundamental question about the legitimacy of the TFG. It has struggled to get a semblance of respect, a sense of support, public support on the ground,” he says.
Asked to explain how the dynamics on the ground could be upset, Othieno says, “I fear that there might be an escalation of violence on the ground, especially in Mogadishu, where that conference has to take place. The TFG doesn’t have control of the entire (city of) Mogadishu. In fact, we’ve seen a number of attacks on senior members of the TFG, including the prime minister,” he says.
Othieno says that violence may be used to demonstrate opposition to the reconciliation conference and to show that it cannot be held “without the blessing of the Hawiye and the Islamic Courts.”
The Union of Islamic Courts was ousted last December by TFG forces, backed by the Ethiopian military.