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SOMALIA: Invitations to peace talks go out

NAIROBI, 9 Oct 2002 (IRIN) - Invitations to attend the much-postponed Somali reconciliation conference, due to start next week, have been sent out, sources close to the talks told IRIN on Wednesday.

"Everything is on track and the invitations to all the political entities were sent by yesterday, 8 October," the sources said. Invitations to civil society groups - which go to individuals - "should go out by today or tomorrow".

The conference, brokered by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is due to open next Tuesday in the Kenyan town of Eldoret. Delegates are expected to start arriving the day before.

The sources said that invitations to attend the opening ceremony, which will be presided over by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, had been sent to all IGAD heads of state.

Some 300 delegates from the various groups are expected to participate, an IGAD source told IRIN on Wednesday. However, the number of delegates allocated to each group has not been made public, "and will be seen as delegates start registering, since some fine tuning will go on up to the last minute".

Invitations have been sent to political groups including the Transitional National Government (TNG) in Mogadishu; the authorities of Somaliland and Puntland; the Baidoa-based Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), which controls much of the Bay and Bakol regions of southwestern Somalia; the Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) which controls Kismayo, also in the south; and the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), another alliance of southern factions opposed to the TNG.

The self-declared republic of Somaliland has said it will not attend the peace conference, as it does not consider itself part of Somalia. In Puntland and Baidoa, the issue of who will participate is complicated by the fact that rival leaders are vying for power.

The peace conference was originally scheduled for April this year, but has been postponed several times amid differences between the technical committee mandated to prepare it. The IGAD technical committee comprises the neighbouring states of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.


Letter to Kenyan Ambassador

October 9, 2002
Hon. Yusuf Abdirahman NZIB, Ambassador
2249 R Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Hon. Yusuf Abdirahman NZIB, Ambassador,

Somalia has disintegrated into tiny tribal zones outlawed by warring factional fiefdoms, while opinionated leaders are locked in a clash of wills over political controversies. As a result a massive humanitarian crises, massive outflow of refugees and vast number of internally displaced persons. Mass impoverishment, misery, hunger, disease and insecurity rein the country and a peaceful Somalia is vital to regional stability.

The call for a broad-based national reconciliation conference can only be helpful when proper measures are made well in advance before arranging to assemble the round table meeting. It looks that, the peace conference in Kenya is launched in hurry, allowing no ample time for the different opposing factions to make more efficient strategies to enable them coordinated stands to hammer out unified positions. Agreeing on an appropriate convenient time schedule to conduct the meeting is also in question; given the month of Ramadan is fast approaching. Also, the 17 people that IGAD has selected to assist with the peace process is unacceptable since it didn’t take into account the aspirations of Muddullood and other clans who are not represented on this group and fear to be marginalized and not to be addressed their legitimate concerns.

According to the sources, the Transitional National Government (‘TNG’), the opposition Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC) and signatories to the Nakuru accord, signed by some faction leaders in December 2001; will be invited to attend the conference “without any conditionality”. Other participants will include regional representatives from Somaliland (there is big question now), Puntland and the newly-declared “State of Southwestern Somalia/SRRC”, as well as members of civil society groups. 

The serious political obstacle would be the issue of representation which constitutes an essential ingredient that guarantees the success of the national reconciliation and peace efforts or a failure. What may call off the very effort to hold a peace conference is the question of representations or strategic issues undermining the prospects for peace. We believe that, the inclusion of civil society groups would be a major holdup since they have supported and continue to shore up the Arte group and could well tip the balance. They use deceptive labels as masks designed to give false impressions and credentials, but have a dismal record for formulating any rational political strategies and are no more than forums of dissent against national goals or agents of disunity which engage in promoting trivial clan affairs at the expenses of common national issues. They derive their unwavering supports on the lines of clan loyalties. 

It is absolutely important to avoid problems of over representations of certain clans who have same political objectives but try to mislead the international community and project themselves as opposing groups to mask their clan objectives; or appointing various elements without power of attorney such as self-appointed failed warlords who joined the Arte group or elements from the autonomous administrations of Somaliland, Puntland & others who joined the Arte group without representing their own people and who are now gearing up to form civil society groups based on clan affiliation ‘ bogus political parties’ just to attend the conference and who are without any mandate to represent their respective factions, and have no authority or political clout to enforce the terms of any peace accord. What would be the role of the civil society? They all lack public trust, authority and political clout to enforce the terms of peace accord.

Official invitations must be extended only to all factional political force leaders or ‘peace-lords’ (SRRC, Somaliland & Puntland) to participate in the proposed peace conference  and those who attended the Arte gathering or reconciled with group (including signatories to the Nakuru accord) and must be represented by Abdul Qasim in fairness to the ‘TNG’. These factions are in my view can decide in the process for a peace and reconciliation in the country. Therefore great efforts should be invested in bringing such factions to the peace conference that can address the roots of the current political crises of the country and guarantee the success of any peace plan.   

In actuality, major impediment for peace in Somalia is that the ‘TNG’ who wishes to bargain as a government, which is an exaggeration on their part; while its opponents who are more generous in my opinion want to present itself (in any talks) as one of the factions in Somalia. The ‘TNG’, even though militarily, organizationally and in terms of area under its control in Somalia is much smaller than that, of its opponents, the acknowledgment it has won due to the acceptance by the UN credentials committee of the General Assembly and because of the general support from African and non-aligned countries on the committee and it was a big mistake. 

The ‘TNG’ must be reminded that, Somalia has long ceased to exist as a nation state, according to international law, which defines a sovereign state “as units of a legitimate authority that can control its borders and govern its people under a set of constitutional and legal orders” functioning to fulfill rights and obligations. Therefore, it must agree to the demand of international community to restore peace and the framework of government to Somalia without any precondition. The political momentum in Somalia has shifted and without being skeptical the “TNG” must be ready to put on the table big things and not loose the last chance for peace in Somalia and get on with it.

On the issue of Somaliland, we support the SC Presidential Statement on Somalia on 28 March 2000. The Security Council Statement said, “The Security Council recalls the Statements of its President of 31 October 2001 (S/PRST/2001/30) and 11 January 2001 (S/PRST/2001) and all other previous decisions concerning the situation in Somalia. The Council, having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 21 February 2002 (S/2002/189) and having held public meeting on 11 March 2002, reaffirms its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia, reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of the country, consistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. We therefore, call upon all the international community to recognize the fact that, only, the total sums of all parts of Somalia make the whole.

Finally, the Muddullood people in the Diaspora and in the country whole heartedly support the peace process and encourage all Somalis to rally their support for unity and stability and seek their positive public response and blessing for the initiative of President of Kenya Hon. Daniel Arap Moi and his IGAD counterparts.  

Best regards,

Dr. Abdi Ulusso




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