News / Africa

Somalis Unconvinced by London Conference

Somalis listen to news from the London conference on a radio in Mogadishu, Somalia, February 23, 2012.
Somalis listen to news from the London conference on a radio in Mogadishu, Somalia, February 23, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +

A conference in London on the future of Somalia has brought together an impressive range of leaders from around the world and from Somalia's own abundant roster of political administrations.  But average Somalis say some important voices have been left out of the conversation. 

The British Foreign Office has set out an ambitious agenda for the London Conference: getting 40 countries to agree on a way forward for a country that has been without a central government for 20 years.

There have been many past efforts, including the Ugandan-mediated Kampala Accord and the U.N.-backed Djibouti peace process as well as negotiations in Nairobi that established the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Abdi Samad, an independent political analyst in Nairobi, is optimistic that the London conference will be more successful, because it brings together more divergent parties.

“What I'm saying is, they invited [TFG President] Sheikh Sharif, they invited Puntland, they invited Somaliland, they were not part of the Somali peace process, today they bring on board," said Samad. "With the combination of so many factors, I hope I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Representatives of the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland, and the semi-autonomous Puntland and Galmudug regions are all attending the conference.

While still technically a part of Somalia, all three have established their own governments, and have made strong gestures toward independence, rankling those members of the TFG that want to maintain a united Somalia.

But another, more powerful force tearing the country part, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab and its allies, remains unrepresented.

Mohammed Ali Mohamud is a businessman with interests in Puntland and was once a prominent vice minister in a previous transitional government.  He says it is a mistake to leave the Islamists out.

“The people, they are dealing with are one side of the problem.  So if you don't deal with the whole problem with all the factions fighting there, then you are only siding with one section and nobody knows what the section will produce,” he said.

It would be impossible to get many of the stakeholders in London to sit down with al-Shabab; the United States considers the al-Qaida linked group a terrorist organization, while Kenya is in the midst of a military operation to crush the militants in southern Somalia.

But Mohamud says Somalia's Muslim partners should be more willing. "Those who are thinking they are fighting because of Islamic value, you know, Turkey and Qatar, or whoever, they can counter-balance. They say you are Muslim, we are Muslim, let's talk and stop fighting,” he said.

A communique from the conference, leaked earlier on Somali websites, recognizes the emergence of new “actors” in Somalia, specifically Turkey and Qatar.

Without a central government, Somalis are often caught up in the constant competition between local administrations, militias and even foreign armies vying for control.

Take for example the tiny, dusty town of Tabda.

Not far from the Kenyan border, Tabda is part of the semi-autonomous region of Azania. It was previously under the control of al-Shabab before TFG forces and Kenyan troops repelled the militants. Now the town is guarded by a militia allied with the TFG.

Here in Tabda, Ibrahim Mahamoud Mohamed, a village elder at the age of 38, says all the people really want is peace.

Even those militias in the bushes can also be brought into the negotiations, he says.  It is important to know that nothing can be solved through fighting.

But for Mohamed, and many others in Tabda and similar towns, food remains scarce, health care is provided by aid workers, violence is a constant threat and London is very far away.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid