Cape Times SECTION: Main
EDITION: 1 PAGE NUMBER: 11
AUTHOR: Peter Fabricius
am deeply sceptical of a president being voted into office
by an unelected parliament meeting outside the country. What
possible claim to legitimacy does he have?"
puts it like that, it is hard not to share with Princeton
University political scientist Jeffrey Herbst his pessimistic
prognosis of the 14th peace deal in the world's ultimate failed
was talking about the election last weekend of Abdullahi Yusuf
as interim president of the latest government of Somalia.
Yusuf, a clan leader and former military colonel, was elected
by the members of a new parliament who had been appointed
- not elected, as Herbst points out - by Somalia's four main
was the outcome of almost two years of negotiations sponsored
by the surrounding governments and the wider international
took place in Kenya because Somalia was too dangerous.
parliament which elected Yusuf also met in Nairobi for the
Yusuf has no immediate plans to return to his dangerous country
where his life might well be in danger from rival clan leaders.
a member of the Darood clan, was a senior officer during the
reign of former dictator Siad Barre. In April 1978, Yusuf
tried to overthrow Barre but failed and fled to Ethiopia.
He later returned to Somalia, and, in 1998, became president
of the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
his inauspicious inauguration outside his own country, the
surrounding states at least have welcomed Yusuf's election
as has the UN.
13 years of statelessness, Somalia is being given a new chance
by what took place (on) October 10 2004," the Ethiopian
government said, calling Yusuf's election "a historic
achievement for the people of Somalia".
no friend of Ethiopia's, also welcomed Yusuf's election "as
a very positive step in the right direction", Yemane
Gebremeskel, a senior aide to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki
President Mwai Kibaki also offered his support to Yusuf.
are all governments which have an interest since they backed
seem to be adopting a wait-and-see approach, conscious of
the immense challenge any leader faces in trying to restore
governance to a country with a ruined infrastructure, riven
by vicious power struggles by countless clan leaders who are
really just warlords.
of that, observers have grave doubts about whether Yusuf has
the ability or even the sincere desire to bring about peace
and order - despite his assurances in his acceptance speech
that he would forgive his clan enemies and his call on them
to forgive him.
with the International Crisis Group, Matthew Bryden, is not
hopeful that Yusuf has the qualities it will take to bring
is not what I would describe as a consensus figure, and he
is not know as a conciliator," he told the Voice of America.
"He has been a fighter for the last 36 years. I think
it would be unexpected for him to make an about-face now."
that in 2001 when Jama Ali Jama was elected president of Puntland
to succeed Yusuf, Yusuf refused to yield office, provoking
a bloody battle.
held out some hope for Yusuf if he was able to change his
will be division and there will be resistance," he told
VOA. "He will have a choice: he can either try and reassure
the opposition and bring them in, or he can try and impose
himself. And I think if he does the latter, then the peace
process will unravel pretty quickly."
choice of a prime minister and cabinet would give an early
indication of his approach, Bryden said. He added that Yusuf
was widely seen as an ally of Ethiopia and the US, which irks
militant Islamists in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.
Jhazbhay, senior lecturer in Islamic studies at the University
of South Africa, and a Somalia expert, said Yusuf was likely
to appoint a prime minister from the largest Hawyiye clan
which was dominant in Mogadishu.
Yusuf's own Darood clan was not strong in Mogadishu, Yusuf
might be unacceptable there and so he might choose to establish
his government in Baidoa, at the heart of the friendly Dig
and Mirifle clan's territory.
be highly divisive.
any president with a clean record would be difficult in Somalia,
given the country's history and the fact that the parliament
was chosen by the very clans who have been doing the fighting.
Yusuf's election has surprised some observers and there were
rumours circulating in Nairobi after his election on Sunday
that votes had been bought, with Libyan money.
advice that Yusuf should avoid imposing himself if he wants
to succeed, is particularly pertinent to the way Yusuf handles
in the north ended its union with the rest of the country
in the anarchy that engulfed it after Barre's demise in 1991.
since ruled itself as a separate state quite successfully,
going back to its British colonial boundaries, though no government
recognises its claim to independence.
parliament in Nairobi which elected Yusuf included 20 representatives
from Somaliland, though these were not chosen by the government
of Somaliland which considers them unrepresentative "mercenaries".
that Yusuf will reassert sovereignty over its territory, especially
because he has already tried to do that as president of the
neighbouring Puntland region.
Somaliland threatened war if Yusuf tried to reclaim its territory.
"We remind all concerned that the government and the
president elected in Kenya is for Somalia and not Somaliland,"
Information Minister Abdillahi Mohamed Du'ale said in a statement.
people of Somaliland and its government are ready to confront
any enemy that tries to violate its borders and territory
is concerned that the international community will most likely
allow Yusuf's government to take a seat at the United Nations
on behalf of both Somalia and Somaliland.
believes it would be wiser for the international community,
including South Africa, to reserve judgement on Yusuf's government
until it has proven itself on the ground.
option is for the African Union to give both Somaliland and
Somalia observer status, in order to level the playing field
and to reduce current tensions.
the international community should urge Yusuf not to try to
destabilise Somaliland but to concentrate his efforts on sorting
out his own backyard in Somalia proper.
the new government of Somalia could be faced with a civil
war, making the already immense task of restoring peace and
has correctly given a cautious response to the new interim
Somali president, including an implicit call for respect of
Somaliland's peace and stability.
urge all Somalis involved in the creation of these institutions
to focus on the needs of the Somali people while respecting
the peace, governance and security that exists in areas not
currently participating in the Somalia National Reconciliation
Conference," US state Department spokesman Richard Boucher