A two-day meeting between Somalia's Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) and exiled opposition leaders represented by the Alliance for
the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) ended Sunday in Djibouti. The meeting, the
fourth of its kind, was in preparation for a conference in March 2009 on ways
to end Somalia's two-decade-long civil war.
In earlier rounds of such meetings,
the opposition Islamic Courts' Union had demanded the withdrawal of Ethiopian
troops within 120 days. Sunday's meeting, held under the auspices of the
United Nations Political Office for Somalia
(UNPOS) also followed a week during which transitional president
Abdullahi Yusuf announced that his government was on the verge of collapse.
From Djibouti, free-lance journalist Abdoul Kader Youssouf told VOA the parties discussed issues related to forming a national
unity government as well as transitional justice.
two parties, mainly ARS and TFG agreed to the proposals of the UNPOS, namely
the United Nations Political Office for Somalia
based in Nairobi to come up with a committee with each group delegating three
representatives in other to work on such issues as a unity government and
transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict states, which is the case of
Somalia," he said.
earlier rounds of such meetings, the opposition Islamic Courts' Union had
demanded the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops within 120 days.
said the issue of Ethiopian troops pull out from Somalia was also discussed
during the Djibouti meeting.
the end of today's (Sunday's) session, one member of the ARS addressed the
issue to the United Nations Special Envoy to Somalia, that's Ahmedou Ould
Abdallah who said that he had confirmation from last Friday there has been
movement of Ethiopian troops from three respective areas around Mogadishu. But
based on what Ambassador Ould Abdullah was saying, he did not want to give any
names of people who are trying to provide them information on the ground
because of security issues," Youssouf said.
He said representatives of the Islamic
militia Al-Shabab who have been responsible for recent attacks against the
transitional government in Mogadishu were not present at the Djibouti meeting.
have to know that in Somalia, there are a number groups operating on the
ground, one of which is the group that is called Al-Shabab, which is considered
to be the armed wing of the Islamists in Somalia. The only attending this
meeting was the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia and TFG as well as
the civil society," he said.
he said discussions at the Djibouti meeting were conducted in a friendly
atmosphere, Youssouf agreed that very little would be accomplished with the
absence of the militant Al-Shabab.
"A lot of Somali people, both from the
Diaspora and a number of Somali-speaking areas are saying that we need to
associate with the people operating on the ground, mainly in this case
Al-Shabab. But the problem is who should be representing Al-Sbahab if they have
to ever participate in meetings because you have to know that the Al-Shabab is
one of the armed wings of the Islamists, and they don't have any known official
representative. And even if there is one, they don't want to participate in any
meeting with the ARS," Youssouf said.