SOMALIA NATIONAL RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE
EC Somalia Unit
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The Somali National Reconciliation process made a historical achievement on 5 July, after eights months of divisions and disagreements over representations and divergent views on one of the six working committee reports, the interim charter. The second phase was long and surrounded by confusion on issues such as the delegates’ list and participation and witnessed change of chair from Hon. Mwangale to Amb. Kiplagat.
The end of phase two was to be marked by the critical stage of plenary debate on core issues. Five of the six reports produced by the Reconciliation Committees, namely: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Land and Property Rights, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Economic Recovery, Institution Building and Resource Mobilization, Regional and International Relations, were debated amicably and smoothly amended by the plenary.
The working committee on the charter had split over the proposed systems of government (unitary versus federalism) and thus submitted two different reports. This division between members of the Committee gave a leeway to the leaders committee for intervention, though during discussions, the leaders committee also split and assumed at least three different positions. IGAD technical Committee and the International Community worked around the clock to promote an agreement within the leaders committee, a point that remained defeating for sometime. The points of disagreement were on the number of Parliamentarians and their selection, the duration of the interim period and the government system. Following different failed attempts to bring the leaders’ views closer, the chairman of the IGAD Technical Committee, Amb. Bethuel Kiplagat presented a proposal as a compromise for debate and potential adoption. The proposal recommended 315 as the number of Parliamentarians and their selection to be done by political leaders (signatories of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed on 27th October, 2003 in the Kenyan Town of Eldoret) in consultation with traditional leaders and, for the tenure of the interim government to be four years.
The different Somali political groups responded to the proposal and submitted their positions back to IGAD. Mediation efforts by IGAD and the international community managed to reconcile diverging views. Eventually, only two contentious issues remained: the inclusion of politicians in the selection and the size of the parliament. A compromise between the two main conflicting views (TNG and SRRC) was finally found. When the political leaders agreement was read before the plenary, it received an overwhelming support. The plenary hall was filled with voices of support and demonstrations of joy.
Subsequently, the agreement was signed by all the signatories of the Eldoret Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (either themselves if present or their deputies). The agreement though suffered a blow only a few hours later when the TNG President publicly denounced the document and the leaders who represented the TNG in the agreement signed. Dr. Abdiqassim Salat expressed his disagreement with the adopted issues. In a press conference held on Sunday, 6th July in Nairobi, he termed the agreement as one diameter to the interest of the Somali people. He underlined that the adopted federal system “is unacceptable and Somalia unity cannot be compromised”. In addition to him, Mogadishu faction leader Mr. Musse Suddi Yallahow also disowned the agreement with the argument that important figures like him were not part of it.
In response to the position of the TNG president whose tenure is about the finish, 93 TNG ministers and MPs led by the Prime minister, Hassan Abshir Farah and the Transitional National Assembly speaker, Abdalla Derow Issack made a declaration on 7th July. In their statement they defended the clause on the selection of parliament that restricts the privilege to the politicians who were originally and officially invited by IGAD Technical Committee. This statement is a blow to the TNG President with potential serious consequences.
In a separate development, Kenyan Special Envoy and IGAD Technical Committee Chairman, Amb. Kiplagat released a press statement on 7th July disapproving those who argued that the peace process is divisive and leaves out an important part of Somalia, namely Somaliland. He mentioned the efforts made by his predecessor and him in bringing on board Somaliland are yet to bear fruits. He clarified that the conference is working for peace and reconciliation of the Somalia republic. International Community representatives have already expressed their support to the agreement.
Somalis outside the peace process supported the ice breaking agreement made by the political leaders and adopted by the plenary. According to them, dissenting voices are always to be expected but at least a mechanism to overcome problems has to be put in place. A group of three intellectuals including Eng. Mohamed Omar, Social scientist Abdiwahab M. Ibrahim and researcher, Abdikadir Abdullahi interviewed by Novib Mbagathi Discussion Platform urged the Somali delegates to move forward to pave the way for formation of an inclusive government. They requested the international community to support the process both morally and physically and turn deaf ears to the retrogressive voices that have led Somalia to the current situation. They finished by saying that this has to be moment of happiness and bringing up the new born baby until crawling, standing and walking firm on its feet.