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Is it truly for peace-making or for rewarding warlords?

Somali Translation... click here 
crisaaq CabdiRisaaq Xaaji Xuseen
Ra'iisul Wasaare Soomaaliya: 14 Jun 1964 - 15 Jul 1967

Like any concerned Somali, I have been following with keen interest the proceedings of the reconciliation and peace process on Somalia which has been going on in Kenya under the auspices of the IGAD for more than 10 months. I have particularly been interested in the ‘afterthought’ idea of inviting Somalia’s Traditional Clan Leaders to the Conference during its third phase (power-sharing).

As far as I could observe, there seems to be a good number of those invited, and already arrived, whose legitimacy as ‘true clan traditional leaders’ may be disputed. I have no slightest intention, desire and/or interest to offend any body, but at the same time we have to realize that here we are dealing with a very serious and vital matter: searching for ways and means of finding a viable and durable solution to the Somalia’s solution-resistant crisis. For this reason one has to be candid - but, at the same time, sincere -, when expressing his or her opinion.

In the opinion of some people who contacted me, there are a number of true traditional clan leaders who have been left out from the list of the invitees, and they are asking why? This raises the question as to whom the Chairman of the Conference had consulted with when compiling Traditional Leaders’ list? Many a people surmise that the main, if not the only, source of information that the Conference’s Chairman mostly relies on, and gives real attention to, is the so-called “Leaders Committee” (the euphemism of warlords ), a term which the IGAD, or better yet somebody in the IGAD, had coined for the warlords, with a view to deliberately face-lifting/boosting their standing, thus presenting them as the “sole and legitimate leaders who, as such, ought be decision- making body”. I have read the list of about 50-60 traditional leaders who, as reported by the media, “swore at the venue of the peace talks on 4 August,2003, in a ceremony attended by IGAD Technical Committee, Kenyan Assistant Minister for foreign affairs”, and others. As a long time politician and post-independence Minister of the Interior (1960-63) I tried to identify the names on the list. I was able to recognize a very few names.

I have good reason to believe that many of these “traditional leaders” who arrived in Nairobi and quickly and blindly accepted to be administered oath are neophytes, not hereditary. The real traditional leaders have either been excluded or are the ones who declined to take the oath. Taking oath for proving that they are the legitimate traditional leaders is ridiculous, though I would agree that the IGAD should be wary of any possible impostor(s). Such a screening could have been done discreetly. However, knowing that the traditional leaders would not play any decision-making role, insisting on taking oath seems to be gratuitous.

Soon after some of the invited Traditional Leaders arrived in Nairobi, the Chairman was good enough to welcome them on board, and strongly stressed, as reported by various news media, including BBC – Somali section, that they are here to be decision-making body for the selection of the members of parliament on the basis of the already established clan-based formula, in consultation with the Leaders Committee and other politicians at the conference. The parliament so selected would, he added, elect the future ‘transitional president of the Somali Republic, who would, on his turn, appoint a ‘transitional Prime Minister’. The Chairman repeatedly emphasized on how they

Traditional Leaders – need not be afraid of taking right decisions in the interest of their people, and that they are, in this matter, the real source of authority, in keeping with the centuries-old Somali tradition. This sounded a very heartening and inspiring statement which, to many, including myself, was too good to be true!.

Then came a press statement by the same Chairman on August 1,2003. The Chairman’s press conference touched on several iter-related topics . There was, however, one item that was obviously, and in no uncertain terms, contradictory and incongruous with the Chairman’s earlier statement with respect to the status of the Traditional Leaders. The following is an excerpt from of what the Chairman reportedly stated at the press conference:

……………”It was resolved that the selection of the members of parliament would be done by the political leaders – signatories to the Declaration of Cessation of Hostilities signed in Eldoret on 27th October 2002 – and politicians who were originally and officially invited by the IGAD Technical Committee in consultation with traditional leaders”. The Chairman further stated: “I am glad to say that all invited leaders are here. There are two who have not arrived and they are on their way here. Similarly, 73 Ugases (traditional leaders) have arrived.”.

In regression, it might at this point be pertinent to make brief comment on the signing of the Declaration on Cessation of Hostilities in Eldoret on October 27,2002. Those who signed the Declaration were essentially the so-called armed faction leaders, meaning warlords. The signing of the document has created an unexpected situation whereby the IGAD took the position of recognizing the signatories to the Declaration as the only legitimate decision-making body of the peace process, with full veto power. This is absolutely incredible and is entirely in contradiction to the underlying spirit and purpose with which the conference was perceived. First of all, it was only natural that the “armed faction leaders” be the signatories to the declaration, as they and their militias are the only ones who are armed and, as such, the source of warfare, fragmentation and the mayhem that resulted therefrom. It should be remembered that 12 reconciliation and peace conferences had in the past been held to which ONLY these armed faction leaders were invited. The net result of all these commendable efforts was, regrettably, a complete failure. It was because of these unconscionable callousness on the part of these faction leaders that the international community, concerned about the Somalia’s prolonged crisis and mindful of the people’s suffering, had - on the eve of convening the current peace conference in Kenya - to send, on more than one occasion and in an unequivocal language, a stern warning to these armed factions putting them on guard against any attempt to abort/boycott this conference. In light of the above, the general spirit and understanding was that if this conference were to bear fruitful results, the influence and importance of the warlords were to be minimized and, by contrast, the number and role of the non-armed faction leaders participants perceptibly elevated, for they are representatives of the civil society who bore the brunt of the civil strife and therefore their primary concern is the restoration of real peace and order, not jockeying for power.

This being the background, the idea of according special power and privilege to these people (warlords) whose hands are stained with blood runs counter to the common wisdom and should not have come from someone whose mandated mission was to help Somalia return to sanity . Contrary to this popular feeling, the Chairman of the conference, in his statement at the press conference, had clearly and unmistakably declared that it is the so-called leaders committee (the Warlords) that are the sole decision-making body with respect to the selection of the members of parliament, and not the traditional leaders, as the same Chairman made the Somali public believe a few days earlier. But, on what legal ground such a decision of vesting decision-making powers in the warlords was based? It should be recalled that the Conference had adopted its own rules of procedure as soon as it was convened in mid October 2002. To the best of my recollection, there was no in that Protocol any provision that provided ‘special status’ for any person or group of persons. It was instead agreed that all the deliberations be approved and taken by consensus, and this would mean that no one could claim special veto power. This reflected on a true spirit of reconciliation and peace-making process.

With the above quoted public statement by the Conference’s chairman, it became crystal-clear that ,the sole purpose of inviting traditional leaders, specially those easily “manageable”, was/is to use them as a window-dressing (“maqaar saar” in Somali) and to magnifyingly and self-congratulatingly claim that this peace conference, unlike all the previous ones, is a success story for being the really an “all-inclusive” peace conference. The IGAD Technical Committee, taking of advange of the international community’s silent/passive attitude, albeit picking up the tab, seems to be determined to impose an artificial and unsustainable solution on the Somali people by, in bad faith, grooming people who do not really enjoy public trust and who the Somali people wish and desperately decry that they be brought to justice for the untold atrocities they had committed against the people during the past 13 years of death and devastation. Such a forced solution would hardly take off the ground, and it might rekindle new bloodshed. It is a solution essentially tailored to serve non-Somali interests.

To make a long story short, this 10+-month-old peace conference seems to have beome A circus, heading, unfortunately, to a cul-de-sac. No wonder, because has started both with unapt preparations, though it took the organizers more than 6 months, and mischievous manipulations and machinations. The criterion of selecting the participants was far from being genuine, objective and impartial. On the contrary it was markedly partisan and political footballing. Many people, such as traditional, religious and business leaders as well as intellectuals and women's organizations, who are by definition the back bone of civil society and should as such be indispensable for any meaningful peacemaking process, were purposely excluded. By marked contrast, warlords and their accessories whose only credentials are that of being loyal to their respective warlords who, in turn, are known as being Ethiopia’ proxies, were brought in, though seriously thinking, these accessories may not have otherwise had good reason to be in. In short, this conference was purposely intended to be warlords’s conference, not peace-lovers’, as we were made to believe. The experience of 10 months in Eldoret and Mbagathi can substantiate this assessment. Any peace conference planned and conducted disinterestedly and in good faith would have taken in futility that much of time and resources.

IGAD Technical Committee could refute my criticism by claiming that at least 100 of the original 300 delegates selected by IGAD for the conference are representatives of civil society. To this, I would answer that the number appropriately apportionable to civil society should have been at least 200 or 2/3 of the total number in the first place, because they are the ones who were supposed to represent the true interests of the people. Having said that, the 100 who are said to be civil society representatives had, in actual fact, been selected on the advice and consent of the “favored” warlords, and, therefore, they are nothing but an extension of the warlords clienteles. 10 months’ records can amply vindicate this contention. In any event, If that is not the case, and they are, as claimed, an independent entity, where were they? Where is their voice? What role did they play and what stand did they take on issues on the agenda?. As representatives of the unarmed and peace- loving and suffering masses, had they ever challenged the warlords who are warmongers and self-seekers?. To prove the veracity of this assertion, the gentleman, who is said to be the chairman of the so-called civil society’s representatives at the peace conference, is the one who had never hesitated to affix his signature on anything that IGAD Technical Committee wanted to be signed, regardless of what the contents say (Conference’s records, especially those of Eldoret, would corroborate this).

There are IGAD and IGAD. One exists by name, the other is real.The one which is real is the one that rules the conference supreme from the very beginning. Make your home work and find it out which one is this?. In the light of the foregoing, my gut feeling is that the fate of this gathering would painfully be the same as its 12 preceding sisters. And what comes next is everyone’s guess.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate my recent “ baraarujin” to the Traditional Leaders who now are in Kenya for the conference not to compromise their positions in this critical moment of history-making. If the outcome of this gathering failed to produce the hoped-for fruits, traditional leaders would be the only hope and point of reference for future endeavors. But this can happen if they resisted to being compromised in this unholy gameplaying.

Signed by:
Abdirazak Haji Hussen
Aug 12, 2003

C/risaaq Xaaji Xuseen oo Itoobiya Cambaareeyey
& Ingiriiska oo beeniayy baaqii Meles Zenaawi ee Abaarta.. XORIYO

 Waraysigii Wargeyska Sahan ee May 6, 2001

Dhambaalkii C/Risaaq Xaaji Xuseen oo Afsoomaali loorogey
Tarjumadii Axmed F. Cali idaajaa


Copyright & Islaamku wuxuu ka qabo.... Akhri


 .... Copyright & Islaamku wuxuu ka qabo.... Akhri

Kulaabo bogga hore ee




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