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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora