TALKING POINT BY
June 14, 2003
THE SIGNS ARE THERE OF A WARLORD TAKEOVER
you’re wondering how to react if a warlord is
elected for the office of the presidency of Somalia.
You’re not alone.
Somalis at home and abroad fear the impact of a
warlord’s rule on the country he helped destroy;
and the long suffering people at home are worried it
may do more harm than good.
are the people who reflect Count Dracula’s facial
expression, a lump in their throat whenever the word
WARLORD is mentioned and shed crocodile tears during
the showing of a TV footage on the genocide against
the Tutsis by the Hutu thugs called Interhamwe.
journalist of the old school covering the seemingly
unending Nairobi talks said if the warlords are
sidelined there’s going to be a renewed bloodshed
and chaos in many parts of the country, including
those few pockets where people have been enjoying a
semblance of peace and security.
to the controversy is some new individuals who
unilaterally declared themselves President of
Somalia outside the Nairobi talks. Many, who have
been sitting on the fence, are also lobbying for the
seems none of the warlords/faction leaders have a
united vision. Even if they have, democracy and
transparency would not kowtow to them in the very
near future. The reason being they pushed the people
beyond limit during the last 12 years.
Farah Sindaco’s recent
hard-hitting press conference in Nairobi against
those who he said had destroyed the country should
not be elected runs the risk of sidelining the
warlords. It’s as if Farah was saying: “Hey,
this round’s on me.”
Good Luck, Farah
But all the signs to elect a
warlord are still there.
As the conference struggles
with the dilemma of electing a President, one thing
is clear; there are no certainties, only
probabilities. It is a short in the dark.
Faced with confusing and
conflicting advice, the organizers and some
well-meaning civic leaders (voices in the wildness)
are desperately trying to do what is best for
“The problem the talks face
is that whenever things look brighter, a
warlord/faction leader puts a roadblock out of the
blue and it’s awfully hard to convince him that
there’s something for every clan in the new
constitution,” says the journalist of the old
school over the telephone.
Could anyone of my readers
predicted such antics from the warlords/faction
leaders? Could it be that I’ve been wrong all the
time about them?
Many people believed that the
talks in Kenya are a litany of waste, over-spending,
poor performances and weak judgments on the part of
the IGAD organizers. In hindsight some people
believed that the Somalis, left to their own
devices, would not be able to solve their problems,
given the bunch of powerful warlords vying for power
under the barrel of the gun.
Now Ambassador Kiplagat says
some progress has been made since he took over the
chairmanship, but this so-called progress have just
nibbled around the edges of major complex issues.
Overall, a flurry of recent
reports concludes the situation is bleak.
Predictably, those unhappy
with the talks have assailed the Chairman, Mr.
Kiplagat’s credentials. He is a veteran diplomat
who represented his country in a number of countries
with brilliant performances, which gives him a
pretty good grasp of diplomacy. But he knows little
or nothing of the complex Somali clan politics where
trust and diplomacy are at a rock bottom.
Everyone sang a favourable
tune when he arrived the scene to replace Mr. Elijah
Mwangale. “He is well-known and highly regarded
diplomat, and that’s good thing,” said one of
the powerful warlords attending the talks. But now,
having drawn tough conclusions (throwing diplomatic
language out of the window) they dislike him. “He
does not understand Somali politics,” the same
warlord said a few months later. Apparently he had
touched a vicious nerve that disturbed the antics of
the warlords and their track records.
Make no mistake. Mistrust and
polarization of the Somali people along clan lines
was created by the former military regime. Now, the
people must reap what two decades of military
dictatorship have sown.
Oddly, the international
media rarely seems to venture beyond weighing
questions like who is next after Saddam Hussein, the
Middle East (sideling Yassir Arafat), North Korea,
Iran, Corporate Crimes, SARS, Mad Cow disease, West
Nile Virus, Monkeypox or be obliged to wait until
the 2004 U.S. Presidential election.
The Nairobi talks should not
be episode 15 to be forgotten, where peace talks die
faster than the appearance in the political
landscape of a new warlord/faction leader.
Perhaps we need the formation
of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
modeled after the South African Truth Commission.
The first task of the commission would be to probe
into those who were responsible for the collapse of
the numerous peace talks and who were accountable
for the devastation of the country.
Cooler heads must prevail.
M. M. Afrah ©2003
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