News / Africa

Somali Leaders Race to Meet August 20 Transition Deadline

Somalia's Parliament, August, 2011Somalia's Parliament, August, 2011
x
Somalia's Parliament, August, 2011
Somalia's Parliament, August, 2011
Peter Heinlein
ADDIS ABABA - The leaders of Somalia's competing political factions are meeting with international mediators to tackle critical issues standing in the way of the formation of a post-transition government.

All of Somalia's top political leaders are attending the closed door talks, which are expected to last at least two days.  President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is here, along with Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, as well as the speaker of the House and the president of the breakaway northern region of Puntland. 

Also here are special envoys from a host of interested parties hoping to help these politicians bring an end to Somalia's reputation at one of the world's worst failed states.

Despite the smiles and handshakes, the participants know they face a monumental task in following the internationally-agreed plan to a functioning government by August 20.

One diplomat quipped that the road map is more like a minefield, strewn with explosive issues.  Among them is selecting a group of 825 elders from among Somalia's feuding clans who will ratify a constitution and choose members of a post-transition parliament.  The road map calls for the parliament to be in place by June 15.

Transitional Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali says he believes it can be done, if all parties negotiate in good faith.

"Most of the issues are agreed upon.  There are contentious little things that there [are] some disagreements on -- the elders and also the Constitution.  These are things that are not insurmountable.  We can agree.  And if you have honest and open dialogue, we will be able to reach a consensus on these issues," Ali said.

In an earlier interview, Prime Minister Ali called the selection of the 825 elders a critical step in meeting the August deadline.

"After that, we reduce parliament from 550 to 225 because Somalia cannot afford a parliament of 550 members.  So we're going to have a lean, more efficient parliament in July.  They will elect a speaker, then a president and the establishment of a new government by August, 2012," Ali said.

With 90 days until the transitional government's mandate expires, the parties are racing to settle their differences.

Diplomats attending the meetings say the massive tasks facing negotiators might require extending the two days of meetings.  One representative of a western country, who asked not to be identified, issued a cautiously optimistic prediction, saying, “They will succeed because they have to.”

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid