The London Conference on Somalia 2013: Any better solution this time to end human sufferings?

6 May

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia observatory

The London Somalia Conference 2013, the second in a series, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday May 7, 2013. The Governments of the UK and Somalia are co-hosts of the conference, according to information released by the United Kingdom.

There have been efforts to make distinction between this conference and the one that took place a little over a year ago. It is not strong argument, but they say this time there is credible government in Mogadishu, instituted by Somalia processes, instead of the unpopular transitional government.

Unfortunately, this rather is a distinction without measurable differences. Experience has shown that the future of

Who runs Somalia?(Courtesy of BBC)

Who runs Somalia?(Courtesy of BBC)

Somalia could be served better instead by measuring how much acceptance the Hassan Sheik regime has by citizens of the country both at home and abroad. Without this, it is futile exercise to wish it to be or bank on semantics, especially at a time when what is left of the country from the breakaways is still held by the Islamist group Al Shabab. Much they have suffered though, Somalians may feel that foreign interests are predominating the processes of rebuilding the country.

It is evident that, while the aim of the conference is to enlist international support for Somalia in its in efforts to rebuild the country after two decades of conflicts, there have been fierce debates amongst citizens of that country in diaspora. For instance, from a roundtable that took place recently The Guardian reported that there were grievances of Somalia citizens at home and in the UK the country’s needs not being adequately addressed. The roundtable participants are reported to have argued that the focus of the conference instead ought to be “on investment, jobs, gender, and the humanitarian crisis rather than international security and piracy.”

At least, some 50 partner countries and organizations are invited to take part in this conference, including including the UN, African Union, IMF and Somalia’s friends and neighbours around the world. One such invitee is the newly elected president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, a person facing ICC charges of crimes against humanity along with his vice president. Many observers are surprised by the UK invitation, as a country that has been claiming its policy would not accommodate dealing with such individuals beyond essential contacts.

RBC from Mogadishu reported that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Sunday left for for London, leading Somali government delegation to the conference, wich included the foreign minister Fawsiya Yusuf Haji Aden, the minister of finance Mohamud Suleyman, the justice minister Abdullahi Abyan, the state minister for foreign affairs Mohamud Nur and the state minister of presidency Farah Abdukadir.

On leaving Mogadishu, President Hassan said he would present detailed program of reforms of government institutions to the conference, according to the BRC report.

Meanwhile, violence by the Al Shabab group has continued attacking at will targets in the capital city. Just within days, Sunday there was a deadly blast that hit government convoy carrying aid workers. Also seven people were killed Sunday in Mogadishu, when Al Shabab targeted members of the visting Qatari delegation. “The attack targeted an Arab delegation who came to Mogadishu today. It missed its target and instead hit civilians in the area,” Ahmed Omar Dhabarey, district commissioner, is quoted by The Telegraph stating this.

The frequency of these volley of attacks seems to send message to the conference that Al Shabab is force to reckon with.

Meanwhile, the 21st Extraordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government was held in Addis Abeba to consider the situation in Somalia, according to the Ethiopian foreign ministry. By the end of the summit the IGAD leaders had adopted a communiqué, incorporating five principles. These are:

    ◙     Leadership of the Somalia Federal government,

    ◙     Respect for the provisional constitution of Somalia,

    ◙     All inclusive consultative process with the peoples of Somalia,

    ◙     Supportive role for IGAD based on the proprieties of the Somali
            government and

    ◙     Fighting Al-Shabaab as the primary focus of the Somali government,
            AMISOM, regional and international partners.

Coming as this summit does before the London Conference on Somalia, its appeal to the international community to redouble its support to the stabilization, reconstruction and development of Somalia as per the government-led reforms in the various upcoming forums, in particular the London conference may not go unnoticed.

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon wrote A bright future for Somalia is within touching distance, an article that appeared on Al Jazeera today. Among others, it stated the Mogadishu government’s view as follows:

    “Al-Shabaab, though they do not yet understand this, belong to the past. Somalis have seen for themselves the horrors of their nihilistic foreign agenda and want no part of it. As a result, our enemies have seen their territory and morale, their fighters and finances diminish rapidly, as they acknowledged in a desperate open letter last month to Ayman al Zawahiri, their ideological puppet master in al-Qaeda.”
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