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Wararka Mudugonline

December 6, 2002

An advice to the Somali Conference

Foreign nationals, concerned governments and the Somalis must have learned lessons from the previously failed fourteen reconciliation conferences. The last one held at the Djibouti town of Arte, produced results that many Somalis rejected and it never solved the national crisis, lawlessness and disintegration.

This conference, under the auspices of IGAD Technical Committee (ITC) comprised of Kenyans, Ethiopians, and Djiboutians plus the powerful European Union representative and the invisible US observer, was expected to be different in terms of procedures to be followed, the criteria for participation and over all rules of the proceedings. It should have drawn valuable lessons from all the failures before it. It should have avoided the fundamental distortion of representation and the near total domination of foreign individuals in all aspects of the conference. Among the many mistakes and shortcomings in the previous conferences, it was the mishandling of the selection of conference delegates and lack of proper procedures that dealt the death blow to their deliberations.

In order any Somali conference to succeed and to have meaningful results for the intended people, certain basic principles must be up held and respected at all times and in all circumstances. These principles must include the sovereign rights of the Somali people to choose their own representatives. Basic and universally accepted procedures of conflict analysis and resolution must be established and strictly followed.

In this Somali conference at Eldoret, the IGAD technical committee and the paymasters of this meeting, namely EU and US point persons, decided to conduct it in an unprecedented social club or an open theater like way.

Participation is free for all: Militia leaders; NGO’s; Clan leaders; political aspirants from the Diaspora, Women, Youth, dozens of foreign and national persons posing as advisers often undoing agreements and creating doubts, powerful and behind the scenes Al Islah and Al Ittihad leaders; Somali, UN and foreign observers, large contingent of foreign intelligence; Local, National and International media, and many more are active participants of this meeting. Above all, the flow of huge sums of money from foreign and Somali sources, buying political support and favors, guarantee a constant shift of the political positions of the Somali groups and leaders.

Decisions reached in the morning get changed in the evening, simply because of the concentric circles of interest groups, money and lobby. The motto here seems to be " more is better". We have to ask ourselves, is this a social gathering or a serious business for creating governance structures and leadership for a nation that failed to exist 12 years ago?

We all know conflicts are negotiated, mediated, compromised and resolved in a controlled and strictly regulated setting and among actual leaders who are part to a conflict. There is no conflict without protagonists. In Somalia the protagonists are clear and visible. But the nations, who have the financial, political and other means to bring together the warring leaders want other ways to achieve a result they could like, which may or may not be what the Somalis want. By creating concentric circles of interest groups of their choice around any reconciliation meeting and by nominating a controlling quorum of the delegates in the conference, they hope to cook the final results. The warring leaders resist attempts to get around them. In this game of political maneuvering, the ten million Somali population falls prey for 12 years. The region is seriously affected by the fall out. Terrorism and refugee problems became worldwide issues.

In conclusion, this game of hide and seek must stop! Somali leaders who have the actual power to stabilize the situation, and create law and order in this bleeding nation, must be made to compromise and agree on a democratic solution to the conflict in a regulated and strictly controlled setting. Cajoling and coercing reluctant leaders is justifiable part and parcel of the mediation process. Cut the phones; cut the flow of money; stop the multiplicity ideas; eliminate the multiple players, the interest groups and their lobby; and control the media and foreign interference. Following this route is not empowering civil war criminals. In fact, it is committing them to a democratic process that is actually the beginning of the end of their grip to power and probably the best hope to indite them in the future. Convening a meeting of a representative body to ratify agreements can only come when leaders are committed to specific governance structures, fair constituencies representation and modalities of selection. Basic geographical location, traditional democracy and available precedence can be used as a guide to selecting a representative body. Amb. Robert Okley, ex-US Special Envoy to Somalia, 1992-93, tried this constructive approach then, but met with a stiff international and local resistance that led to the numerous disasters that followed. Wasting meager international aid resources on grand scale futile schemes, raising and dashing hopes of the Somali people characterized the previous conferences and obviously this meeting is following the same path or even worse. Some thing must change here in this conference and sooner not later.

Dahir Mirreh Jibreel
Social Studies Teacher at Edison High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Now at Eldoret
Telephone: 0722-660033

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