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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid