News / Africa

EU Seeks Benchmarks in Extension of Somali Government

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf (L) and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden (R) speak to the media after signing a Yemeni-sponsored declaration in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, January 5, 2006 (file photo)
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf (L) and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden (R) speak to the media after signing a Yemeni-sponsored declaration in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, January 5, 2006 (file photo)
Michael Onyiego

As the Somali government attempts to oust Islamist insurgents from southern and central Somalia, the European Union is shifting its support and demanding results from the transitional leaders.

European Union officials are in East Africa to assess the situation on Somalia and evaluate the EU's support of the troubled transitional federal government. The trip comes in the midst of an offensive - recently launched by the government - to wrest control of southern and central Somalia from al-Qaida-linked rebels, al-Shabab.

Fighting has raged over the past few weeks across the region and in the capital, Mogadishu, where the government controls only part of the city. Casualties are climbing and at least 50 soldiers from the African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM, have been killed. The clashes also have spilled into Kenya and Ethiopia, as both sides look to control crucial entry and exit points into their war-torn neighbor.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, the European Union’s managing director for African relations, Nick Westcott, said the renewed fighting, however,  must not distract Somalia’s transitional government from badly needed reforms required under its mandate.

"Clearly security developments and political developments go hand in hand in Somalia. But the political process has to get underway. You can’t freeze the political process because there is an offensive going on," said Westcott.

The transitional federal government, founded in 2004, originally was tasked to deliver a new constitution and national elections in Somalia by August of this year. But with little or no progress made towards those goals, the transitional federal parliament in February voted unilaterally to extend its term for an additional three years.

The extension was slammed by Somalia’s main backers, including Europe, the United States and the United Nations - all of which criticized the parliament for failing to consult the Somali people.

Westcott told reporters such an extension could be justified only by progress towards fulfilling the government’s mandate. "We regret the auto-extension because we felt there was an opportunity here, which was missed, to build more of a political consensus and set some criteria and a roadmap of change that would justify the extension," he said.

Westcott revealed he would be meeting with Somali Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden to discuss retroactively linking the parliament’s extension with benchmarks of government progress.

Westcott also hinted at a shift towards the approach of the European Union towards Somalia’s breakaway states: Somaliland and Puntland.

"Some parts of Somalia - some regions - have started becoming increasingly stable and, where there are these nodes of stability, we, the European Union, want to support them," he said.

Both Somaliland and Puntland are autonomous regions in northern Somalia, which are relatively stable and conflict-free. Somaliland declared total independence from its neighbors in 1991, but has not been recognized internationally. Officials told journalists the two regions were the focus of more than $300 million worth of current and future EU development projects planned for the country.

The shift follows a similar change in strategy by the United States, which recently revealed it would begin to diplomatically engage, though not officially recognize, both regions as part of its Somalia strategy.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords, plunging the country into 20 years of continuous violence.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid