Reports quoting African Union sources said the continental organization has chosen former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings as its new envoy for Somalia.
The reports said Mr. Rawlings will help promote peace and reconciliation, as well as focus more international attention on the war-ravaged country.
Usman Mohamed, professor of political science at the University of Abuja in Nigeria, told VOA the former Ghanaian leader’s background would help him greatly in his new job.
“Jerry Rawlings has earned himself a good name in Africa. As a former military leader, who has turned (out) to be democrat in Ghana, who has pulled Ghana out of the woods, and who has been a statesman all over, I think he understands the military politics in the Organization of African Unity (African Union). With his military experience, he will be able to bring some positive developments to the war-torn country,” he said.
Mr. Rawlings’ appointment, if true, comes at a time when African Union peacekeepers have stepped up their offensive for control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Mohamed said that, as a former president, Mr. Rawlings might be able to motivate other African countries who had been hesitant to send troops to Somalia to do so.
“You must know that the bombings that happened in Uganda before the Organization of African Unity (African Union) summit has tremendous impact on the troop logistics and contribution from various countries, and, with a figure like Jerry Rawlings, I think the countries will definitely give a lot of troops and logistics in the months ahead,” Mohamed said.
He said, given the volatile nature of Somalia, the former Ghanaian leader will have to also walk softly, but carry a big stick.
“I believe that special envoys have some term of reference. As a former military man, he will meet situations on the ground and the rules of engagement. And, I believe that the rules of engagement and the necessity on the ground will dictate to Jerry Rawlings what he will do there,” Mohamed said.
As a former president, Mr. Rawlings has played an influential role in Ghanaian politics.
Mohamed said some Ghanaians might view the former president’s new role as envoy of Somalia with mixed reaction.
“One, they will be happy that their son has succeeded in this very difficult mission. Secondly, he will posted away, and he will be so much engaged with the Somalia issue, the AU (African Union), and probably reporting to the United Nations, that he will not have much time to play any significant role as he had been playing in the domestic politics of Ghana,” Mohamed said.