News / Africa

    Some Somalis Say Critical Voices Absent in London

    British Prime Minister David Cameron, bottom row third right, with delegates of London Conference on Somalia, Lancaster House, London, Feb. 23, 2012.
    British Prime Minister David Cameron, bottom row third right, with delegates of London Conference on Somalia, Lancaster House, London, Feb. 23, 2012.
    Gabe Joselow

    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 [but] today they bring [them] on board," he says. "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 regions have established their own governments and made strong gestures toward independence, rankling members of the TFG that want to maintain a united Somalia.

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

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

    "The people, they are dealing with are one side of the problem," says Mohamud. "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 [other] section will produce."

    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. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. supports all Somalis who denounce violence, but that Washington is "adamantly opposed" to negotiating with al-Shabab.

    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," he says. "They say you are Muslim, we are Muslim, let's talk and stop fighting."

    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 constant competition between local administrations, militias and even foreign armies vying for control.

    For example, the tiny, dusty town of Tabda: Not far from the Kenyan border, Tabda is part of the semi-autonomous region of Azania. Previously under the control of al-Shabab before TFG forces and Kenyan troops repelled the militants, the town is now guarded by a TFG-allied militia.

    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, very far away.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.