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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid