skeptics, Somalia's new National Assembly has moved to form
the country's first central government in almost 10 years.
success now relies on contributions from international donors,
who have shown little enthusiasm.
Ismael Omar Guelleh of neighboring Djibouti has largely stood
alone in his unqualified support for the 2,000 Somali civic
leaders who have been meeting under a dusty tent in his country.
Those efforts have paid off in the formation of a 225-seat
legislature that most Somalis have warmly welcomed. But the
international community has largely stayed on the sidelines.
Security Council made an appeal on behalf of the Djibouti
conference in June, and on Wednesday again called on the international
community to support the peace process.
far, there has been little response from donors. ``I very
much hope the international community will not stand back,''
David Stephen, the U.N. observer to the peace process, told
The Associated Press. ``If it does, those armed elements opposed
to political change will win.''
armed factions are exactly what has kept international donors
from getting involved. After the factions overthrew dictator
Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, the militias turned on one another
and there has been no national government since.
peacekeeping force in U.N. history was deployed to Somalia
from 1992-95 to deal with a famine, but with disastrous consequences.
The peacekeepers were persistently attacked by militiamen
and 18 U.S. soldiers died in a failed attempt to arrest one
of the militia leaders, an episode that hardened the West's
attitude toward the country at the tip of the Horn of Africa.
1995, the United Nations has spent up to $100 million a year
in Somalia, most of which has been for emergency aid, not
reconstruction, Stephen said. If the new assembly is to succeed
in uniting the country, rebuilding infrastructure and enforcing
law and order, aid from international donors will be crucial.
people want a national government,'' Stephen said. ``It needs
the support of the international community to make that a
reality, otherwise Somalia will be the first of a dangerous
trend where countries are divided between (organized) states
and those with no authority, with the people suffering from
warlords and mafia-style anarchy.''
a country of 650,000 people squeezed between Somalia and Eritrea,
took the lead on May 2 when it invited the Somalis to work
out their problems in the town of Arta, all expenses paid.
made up mostly of ethnic Somalis, took donations from citizens
and even raised taxes to pay for the peace effort. ``It's
cost millions. It's been a major expense,'' said Roble Olhaye,
Djibouti's ambassador to the United Nations.
12 failed peace conferences, this effort offers the best chance
for real change, Olhaye said. The tasks set for the new lawmakers
are daunting. The assembly must persuade faction leaders to
respect them, recruit the militiamen who cruise the streets
into new national security force and then set about collecting
plans to move to Somalia once a president, prime minister
and Cabinet have been selected and security is ensured. But
without outside funding, there is little hope the legislature
can be more than a debating society. Many of the diplomats
observing the Djibouti conference, however, are not eager
to offer support.
Sciortino, Italy's envoy to Somalia said his country -- Somalia's
colonial master until independence in 1960 -- and other countries
would be willing to help, but offered no details.