News / Africa

UN Envoy Sees Possible 'Breakthrough' in Somalia Talks

UN special envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga. center (file photo, AU-UN via Reuters).UN special envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga. center (file photo, AU-UN via Reuters).
x
UN special envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga. center (file photo, AU-UN via Reuters).
UN special envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga. center (file photo, AU-UN via Reuters).
Peter Heinlein
ADDIS ABABA - The United Nations special envoy for Somalia says the "Road Map" peace deal signed last September is on track to produce a breakthrough in ending the Horn of Africa country's 20-year political vacuum.

It won't be easy, but three months before the end of the U.N.-backed transitional government, leaders of Somalia's fractious political entities seem committed to working together in a post-transition arrangement.  U.N. special envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga said if it holds together, this could be historic.

"We have 90 days till the end of the transition.  The elders are convened, the principals are here.  They are together.  And they have demonstrated a commitment to end the transition, and certainly, touch wood, this will be a major breakthrough that has never happened in the past 20 years," Mahiga said.

Critics point out that what Somalia will have after August 20 will not be a perfect representative democracy.  After two decades of anarchy, there is no infrastructure to hold an election.  What's more, Islamist extremists still control significant parts of the country.   

So instead, the parties have agreed to hold a proxy election.  A body of traditional elders is selecting members of a Constituent Assembly who will in turn choose a new parliament, leading to ratification of a constitution and election of a post-transitional president.  

Previous attempts failed, partly because of factional squabbling and lack of security.  But with pro-government military forces expanding their area of control, Mahiga believes this time is different.

"This is different because of two major underpinning trends.  The first is related to the establishment of security beyond the borders of Mogadishu.  It is a different process than any other that have happened before because it is inclusive of all major political actors in Somalia," Mahiga said.  

Among the many things that could go wrong between now and August would be a resurgence of the al-Shabab militant group.  Al-Shabab remains a spoiler, with the potential to create terror through suicide bombs and guerrilla attacks.  But Mahiga says the extremists are a spent force.

"Let's face it.  They are really in retreat on all fronts, not only in and around Mogadishu, but in the south, the central parts, the expansion of AMISOM, the entry into the war of Ethiopia, and the determination by the TFG forces to combine with neighboring countries is putting tremendous pressure on al-Shabab," Mahiga said.

Transitional Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali says these Addis Ababa talks have been a big step toward the August 20 finish line.  He sounded energetic as he surveyed the exhaustive course ahead.

"Next, [we're] going back to Mogadishu.  Bring the CA [Constituent Assembly] to convene June 12, ratify the constitution, select the new parliament, and then by August 2012 we have the new parliament, new constitution, and a new political dispensation," Ali said.

Diplomatic observers say the daunting tasks facing Somalia's leaders over the next 90 days, even with all their potential pitfalls, will be the easy part.  If everything goes according to plan, the hard part begins August 20, when a new government selected by Somalis tries to stand on its own.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hope from: Ethiopia
May 23, 2012 3:10 PM
I hope somalia to be a very stable and prosperous neighbor. God bless Somalia

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid