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Toronto (Canada)

09, Feb 2003

Email: afrah95@hotmail.com
M. M. Afrah

The stench of corruption, embezzlement and scandal is hovering over the conference hall in Eldoret that should lead the new Kenyan government to call the Auditor General to examine whether or not everything is on the up and up, and NOT a private auditing firm as reported by the media. Members of the civil society and Somali intellectuals should be represented at the Auditor General’s committee to help examine the accounting books.

The Technical Committee has no choice but to release all pertinent information about the backroom deals and people on the take and conflicts of interest. There is too much distrust, too much ill will, too much meaningless talk and no visible end result. Some delegates left the talks in a huff, saying it was a waste of time, energy and resources, resources that should have been diverted to the well being of the suffering masses in Somalia.

In December, the Technical Committee raised eyebrows among delegates and European Union donors after it revealed last month that the conference is in the red. And when the then Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Elijah Mwangale was asked to explain the accounting maneuver, he declined to comment for several days.

Last week, Mr. Kiplagat, the “new broom” confirmed that there was no money with which the Technical Committee could run the show.    

Given the track records of the warlords, I have never believed that one more peace talks would produce any fruit. Veteran Somalia watchers agree that with several powerful warlords vying for power in order to maintain the status quo, it’s unlikely that peace and stability will return to Somalia in the very near future.

For the first time the powerful faction leaders face competing challenges from weaker fringe civil society. Members of the civil society and the faction leaders are looking at each other askance—pointing fingers, calling names, and sometimes engage in fistfights.

It’s not an image that will be easily erased or sanitized.

One observer captures the environment in Eldoret perfectly with these two-liners:

“Had the talks were held in Somalia, guns would have been used to silence members of the civil society--Mafia-style.”

But that’s not the whole picture. Further complicating the murky situation is the inability of the Kenyan hosts to exclude certain shady characters from the venue of the talks. Reports from Eldoret persist that agent provocateur in the pay roll of Meles Zenawi whose cloak and dagger operations seriously affected the smooth running of the conference from day one.

Paradoxically, the same Meles Zenawi gave Abdiqassim, the TNG President, red carpet reception with full military honour, accompanied by the national anthems of the two countries on arrival in Addis for the African Union summit, shelving his relentless refusal to recognize Abdiqassim as the President of Somalia. Is this Mr. Zenawi’s version of political yo-yo in the Horn of Africa?

Mr. Zenawi, the game is over. There’s a new referee out there now.

The new Kenyan Foreign Minister, Kalonzo Musyoka told journalists in Addis he has been able to identify the violators of the ceasefire agreement, which he said are linked to the delegates who are now attending in Eldoret.

Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, the prominent civil society member and one of the very few intellectuals at the talks, said, “It is long overdue. They  (the monitors) should have been in place from the beginning.”

Like the Phoenix, Somalia must rise from the ashes of the clan wars, peace talks or no peace talks. As our ancestors used to say: The Miracle of Recovery is Possible.

M.M. Afrah © 2003
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com


Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two decades".

Many of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in the country. He received several death threats from the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still is!


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