After three postponements, what are the chances of a Somali reconciliation conference actually be held next Sunday? And what are the chances of it being a success?
VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua put those questions to Herman Hanekom, independent researcher of contemporary Africa, who's in Cape Town.
“I’m not very positive that some good will come from it, but at least they are going to get together and talk. The Hawiye tribe is perhaps the most difficult nut to crack amongst all those clans. The question that I have, and I don’t think we’ll have clarity on this (until)…at the earliest Saturday afternoon, the all inclusivity of this conference. If that is not all inclusive I’m afraid there will be no hope to find a solution,” he says.
One of the stumbling blocks has been complaints from various clans of the continued presence of Ethiopian troops. However, Hanekom says there are others. “We must bear in mind that the interim government in Somalia did not come to power through what one could call an election. They were appointed by negotiators, who met to try and solve the problems in Nairobi. So, it is for all practical purposes a very selective government. And that I think is also a serious point that they will have to address. But I cannot see elections taking place before all clans, all parties agree to lay down arms to stop the violence. Stop the intimidation and hold free and fair elections under international supervision,” he says.”
He says that the Transitional Federal Government should make an all-inclusive amnesty offer, convince the clans it is strictly an interim government, and promise that its members would not be candidates in the national elections. Hanekom says if that is done, there is a good chance all sides would agree on reconciliation.