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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid