is hope that the clan-based talks, initiated by Djibouti President
Omar Guelleh, will succeed in establishing a new government
- with or without the armed faction leaders.
Who is represented at the Somalia talks in Djibouti?
At this stage, clan elders and chiefs. The major clan
groups are represented. It is hard to put a figure on it,
but some 70 to 80 percent - though in the case of the Isaaq
from Somaliland it is not as complete a representation as
we might wish.
are still to complete their delegation; 40 Rahanweyns travelled
to Djibouti last Thursday and another group is due to go.
The Marehans - Omar Haji and his group are there, but there
is another group in Mandera waiting for transport. I think
very soon we'll have the vast majority of Somalis represented
by their clan chiefs or traditional leaders.
How were representatives recruited?
There have been 12 "warlord" or faction-based conferences
that have failed. They failed because those who signed agreements
never carried them out. The last one was probably the worst
failure - the Cairo conference that collapsed in December
a very big disappointment to all concerned. The region and
the UN spent some time analysing the causes [of that failure].
One of the key problems was that the faction leaders by themselves
... could reach an agreement but couldn't implement it.
a broader process had to be contemplated. Many Somalis said
clan was the institution that put the leaders there, they
became the armed branch of the clans, and the new process
should start with the clans, not the warlords.
has done is to make contact with the major clan groups in
Somalia. When Omar Guelleh started this process, which he
did in a speech to the UN General Assembly last September,
there was tremendous grass-roots enthusiasm inside Somalia.
very harsh in his language against warlords and that produced
an immediate response from the Somali people. Since then,
the process has been carried on the BBC Somali service and
some of the new radios that are opening up in Somalia, for
example Horn Afrique radio.
has been grassroots pressure from many parts of the country
for the faction leaders to take part. Many leaders have gone
to Djibouti or contacted Djibouti on their own accord. So
this is not a western process of credentials, card-carrying
party members or anything like that.
a very Somali process. The next stage will be to form official
delegations. Although the conference opened on 2 May, it is
in a consultative process at the moment, whereby the elders
have come together to formulate the way forward in terms of
have asked them to advise on that. There is the issue of the
so-called minorities ... and ... who should actually be in
from Mogadishu, the Hawiyes and others, will have to decide
which elders (take part).... that is where the question of
faction leaders will come up. Some are in Djibouti - Ali Mahdi,
Hussein Bod and Omar Haji.
at the moment a clan and regional-based process, and the formation
of delegations will be a crucial step in the next few weeks.
What is the agenda?
The facilitators have said the objective is to do two
things: to form a provisional government, and to set up institutions,
which will give Somalia a government and an administration.
deal with) the long-term issues of constitution, representation,
the role of Somaliland, the capital, is it a federal, confederate
or centralised state. The idea is to have elections within
two years. It is hoped that the parliament can be formed out
of the conference. This is something I would like to clarify.
particularly in Somaliland have been very suspicious of Djibouti,
for trying to impose a pattern on Somalia. That really misses
is really facilitating a process that at some time in the
quite near future will become Somali. Djibouti ... is bringing
Somalis together but a lot of the issues will be decided by
stage this process will form a transitional parliament which
may then meet in Somalia itself.
What sort of support is being offered by the UN. Is it something
We support this Djibouti process and the Secretary-General
made that clear. He asked me to spend as much time as possible
in Djibouti which I have been doing since 1 February.
been able to assist and give some general advice. But Djibouti
is doing this itself and that's a very important point to
a small independent country and is not being used by any other
interests or group at all. It is doing this as a brotherly
nation to Somalia. At some stage the international community
could be asked to do some specific things.
the enormous involvement of the international community in
the past was and is associated with failure - rightly or wrongly
- the Djiboutians have wanted to avoid that, and keep it a
of that past there is always a suspicion that leaders are
being bought off or some groups are being favoured by the
international community. This process avoids some of those
But regional politics played a part in previous failures?
Very much so. And we have had competition between regional
peacemakers before, with accusations that one country or another
was hijacking the peace process. Djibouti is doing this on
the chair of IGAD and so the support of the countries of the
Horn of Africa. This is an extremely important feature of
this process - that is that there is no competition.
But Ethiopia pursued talks in an IGAD role - and failed.
Ethiopia was doing it in an IGAD role. Unfortunately the Cairo
conference which was to have been an attempt to bring in some
of the leaders who were not in the Ethiopian process, became
a conference in its own right. So relations between Ethiopia
and Egypt were not good at that stage.
a conference and process supported by IGAD, but it has also
got the strong support of the League of Arab states. A minister
from Ethiopia and a senior official from Cairo attended the
opening, there was also a minister from Sudan. The ambassadors
of various countries including the United States, China and
Russia also came.
Do you think the absence of the armed faction leaders - warlords
- will be significant in any way?
We will have to see when the delegations are formed whether
the clans bring their armed elements into it.
is a question whether some of them really are clan-armed factions,
or whether they are separate groups. What is certainly clear
is that in the last three or four years, since the last peace
process, the power of those armed leaders has declined dramatically.
not dealing with the situation we were dealing with in 1991-92.
The late General Aideed was supported by the banana industry,
which has now largely collapsed.
are very few foreign countries now involved in arming these
people. It is too early to say what the warlords will do.
If the clans bring them into the delegations they will have
a role to play.
know how exactly you define a warlord. What I have said is
that in the next stage of the process those who show they
are supported by their people as leaders will be very welcome.
But this will be a political
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