News / Africa

Little Hope for Talks on Somali Government Transition

Somali parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden addresses a news conference at Adam Ade airport in capital Mogadishu, March 24, 2011 (file photo)
Somali parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden addresses a news conference at Adam Ade airport in capital Mogadishu, March 24, 2011 (file photo)


Michael Onyiego

With the mandate of Somalia’s transitional government nearing an end, the United Nations has convened a conference in Nairobi to discuss the future of the Horn of Africa nation. But with some major stakeholders absent, observers expect little progress.

International diplomats, government ministers, armed groups and politicians at the conference are discussing the future of Somalia’s political structure.

In attendance for the meeting are representatives of semi-autonomous states such as Puntland and Glamudug, as well as Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, an armed group allied to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.

Conspicuously absent from the conference, however, are representatives of the government itself.

Shortly after the conference was announced in March, Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Fiqi said the talks would damage the progress made by the Somali government over the past months and indicated that representatives from the Transitional Federal Government would not attend.

Both President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed echoed Fiqi’s sentiments. The prime minister, on a recent trip to Nairobi to meet with Kenyan Premier Raila Odinga, told reporters that any such meeting should be led by Somalis in Mogadishu.

According to analyst Rashid Abdi of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, the stance of the TFG is an indication of the frayed relationship between Somali leaders and the international community.

"Probably Sharif may have read the signal that powerful elements within the international community don’t want him and so there is very little use for him to attend," said Abdi.

Despite the boycott of the Somali government, Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden is in Nairobi to participate in the talks.

Aden, known in Somalia as "the blade" for his political prowess, is Ahmed’s main political rival. Aden reportedly has the backing of regional powers, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, and is seen by many as a possible replacement for the president.  

Late Tuesday, Somalia’s Council of Ministers warned that the talks could potentially damage the country’s national institutions. The group also blasted the attendance of Aden, arguing he had no mandate from either the Somali parliament or executive to attend the talks.

The conference was initially designed to restart discussions about the transition of the interim government, without producing any binding agreements. But with the talks set to close Wednesday, ICG analyst Rashid Abdi said even those modest goals are unobtainable.

The conference is probably an attempt, some would say belatedly, to try to build some consensus around the way forward for the transition. It’s very difficult to see what can change really with this conference. The fact that you have the speaker of parliament attending, and the prime minister and the president absent, is a clear indication that there is division within the government.

The current Somali government is facing a crossroads with its seven-year mandate set to expire in August of this year. The Transitional Federal Government was formed in Nairobi in 2004 and tasked with delivering national elections and a new constitution to the Somali people.

With little progress seen in either of those benchmarks, though, international backers, including the United States, United Kingdom and United Nations, appear to have lost patience.

The government’s mandate was further complicated in February, when the Somali parliament voted unilaterally to extend its term for an additional three years. The move was blasted by the international community, prompting U.N. Somalia envoy Augustine Mahiga to call for the Nairobi talks.

Speaker Aden has defended the extension as an exercise of parliament’s authority. The speaker, however, recently rejected a similar move by the transitional federal institutions, which includes the presidency, to extend their mandate for an additional year.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords in 1991.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs