Once again, a planned Somali Reconciliation Conference has been postponed. The meeting, scheduled to begin Thursday, June 14th, in Mogadishu, is being delayed for at least one month. Somali officials are quoted as saying clan leaders need more time to choose delegates and to complete a venue for the meeting.
Among those reacting to the postponement of the Somali Reconciliation Conference is Timothy Othieno, senior researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue. From Midrand, South Africa, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about yet another delay in the conference.
“I’m not surprised, and this is what we’ve been talking about in the past…whatever meeting that needs to take place has to be inclusive…. What we’ve seen now and the reports coming out is that the spokesperson for the Hawiye clan has actually stated categorically that they will not attend any reconciliation conference organized by the government, the TFG (Transitional Federal Government), unless the Ethiopian troops leave Somali ground. Now this is a very tough position the TFG is placed in. Remember that the Ethiopian government and the troops that are in Somalia are actually maintaining the TFG in power.”
And he says another major player in Somalia has not been invited. “The other challenge is the Islamic Courts (Union), majority of whom constituted by the Hawiye clam themselves, have also stated categorically that they will also not attend the reconciliation conference,” he says.
The chairperson of the National Reconciliation Committee, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, is quoted as saying the postponement is due to “unforeseen circumstances.” He adds, though, that clan leaders had requested more time to choose delegates and that the conference venue was unfinished.
Othieno says, “I’d like to take that statement with a pinch of salt in the sense that, yes, it may be having problems constituting a quorum and representation of the respective clans. However, I think the underlying issue is still the Ethiopian presence in Mogadishu and Somalia, for that matter. I think that needs to be addressed.
He also says that civil society, religious and business leaders as well as members of the Diaspora should be invited to a reconciliation conference.