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.

    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

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora