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)

Multimedia

Audio
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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid