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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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