- Despite the apparent progress in establishing new transitional authorities, Somalia's peace process still "risks collapse," a new analysis reveals. With the collapse of the first transitional government, the process is already "going downhill" and further flaws may cause dissatisfied groups to withdraw from the government and become an armed opposition.
The Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (IGC) in a report released this week warns that the Somali peace process is still "very fragile." The new transitional authorities have made "no real attempt to effect reconciliation inside Somalia, and there has been little progress towards resolving the many issues that have divided Somalis for years," ICG says.
Somalia, in practical terms, is still controlled by a patchwork of factions, land remains occupied, and violations of the ceasefire and UN arms embargo are rife. "The transitional federal government has to tackle these issues, while earning the legitimacy to do so effectively", says Matt Bryden of the ICG.
- If it does not, then the peace process will stall, and Somalia's stubborn leaders will likely return to all-out violence," adds Mr Bryden. According to the ICG analysis, however, the Somali peace process "has gone largely downhill" ever since the October establishment of transitional authorities for Somalia in Kenya.
The 15 December deadline for the transitional authorities' return to Somalia, set by the member states of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), expired with Somali leader still in Nairobi, citing insecurity in their homeland. Another crisis is produced by Colonel Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, "an archetypal warlord" elected interim president by the Somali leaders.
President Yusuf sidestepped the transitional charter to appoint his candidate as Prime Minister, who then put together a very large cabinet heavily weighted with Mr Yusuf's allies and tarnished by allegations of Ethiopian interference. Several appointees immediately resigned, and the remainder were voted out by parliament in a session that degenerated into fisticuffs, forcing dissolution of the entire cabinet.
The ICG criticises President Yusuf and his partners of imposing their own agenda on the transition and asking for a large international military force to return them to Somalia. Rather than that, the new leadership "need to form an inclusive, broad-based transitional government of national unity," the Brussels group advices.
- The longer the political process remains gridlocked, the less hesitation dissatisfied groups will have about withdrawing from the process and becoming armed opposition, warns Suliman Baldo, of the Crisis Group. Sign of this are already clear, with recent fighting in central Somalia causing around 100 deaths.
The international community was urged to put more pressure on President Yusuf and make clear that only if a national unity government is established, will the transitional authorities "get recognition and desperately needed support." President Yusuf was urged to establish "a new, smaller and cost-effective cabinet that is a genuine government of national unity."
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