Monday, November 28, 2005
interview with Somalia Prime Minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi
The Sub Saharan Informer had
the opportunity this week to sit down with the Prime Minister of Somalia, Ali
Mohammed Gedi. Here he answers questions about a new reconciliation process,
violence and instability in Mogadishu and elsewhere, piracy off the Somali
coast, lackluster international support, and relations with Somaliland.
Would you briefly tell us about the developments that took place after the
government moved from Kenya to Somalia? How the situation is, how you are
managing the peace process?
PM A Gedi :
First and foremost, after the relocation of the government from Kenya to Somalia
in mid-June, we have conducted several activities on the ground, to start with
the installation of the government on the ground. And obviously we have used
Jowhar town, which is located just 90 km North from Mogadishu as the temporary
seat of the government due to the insecurity prevailing in the capital city. But
in the mean time the government officials either from the cabinet ministers or
the parliament are all scattered in all over the regions of Somalia including
Mogadishu. Specifically, Mogadishu is a particular case and the Deputy Minster,
the Minister of Interior is leading the process of reconciliation and stability
in the capital city together with other stakeholders from the regional
administrations to the national one. So far we have achieved some results during
our operation in the country with the submission of the government in this stage
and governmental policy to the Somali people. We have started establishments or
reestablishments of local administrations and it is still going on. We have
started also diplomatic relations with international community and countries.
Our agenda is very clear. And it is focusing on the reconciliation among the
communities in the different areas of Somalia. And also the security sector.
That is our major challenge because for the past 14 years there was no central
government for Somalia and therefore there was no law and order and also law
enforcement agencies are not in place. So we have started reestablishing the law
enforcement agencies. We have already encamped around six thousand security
forces and we want to continue covering the whole country. So most of the
Somalia areas are now peaceful. The public is willing the government under
stability in order to reconstruct the country and start also the development
SSI: It could be recalled that
at the inauguration of the government, some African countries, including the
African Union, pledged troops to assist you in disarming and securing peace in
Somalia and relocating the government appropriately. But so far no troops have
made it to Somalia. Why is that?
P.M.A Gedi: Putting in place peace
supporting mission or troops from the IGAD member states and the African Union
is a priority. And there is no obstruction, but it is a process and it requires
combined effort and the collectivity from the international community’s point of
view. For example my last visit to the European Union Commission has guaranteed
financial support for this issue of stabilization and peace mission to Somalia
in collaboration with the African Union, IGAD members and Transitional Federal
Government of Somalia. So this process is now in an advanced stage and hopefully
within the coming couple of days a technical committee from the AU will reach
Jowhar to consult with the government and put in place our national security
plan for the implementation of stabilization of Somalia.
When will that be? When will the AU technical mission undertake the
Tentatively it will be on the 25th of this month.
SSI: Some people claim that why achieving peace and security has not
been a reality is because some groups have not been included in the Mbagathi
peace process, mainly the people who control the airports, the port; plantations
running lucrative business ventures around these sectors and the fundamentalist
religious groups have not been included and it is said that these are the groups
who remain resistant to your coming as government. If this is true, what is
being done in this regard to bring them together nearer to the Transnational
P.M. A Gedi: Basically in the last 14 –15 years of no government
in Somalia, some private sector forces mushroomed and they have interest in the
vacuum of no government but the business community at large is not against the
government. Rather, there are extremist groups, so called Al Itihad, who are
associated with terrorism are hindering the peace process and the security in
the capital city. Obviously there are groups who are not willing to let any
government and stability in Somalia. Power hungry groups are there - the
so-called Islamic Courts - although most of them are now pro-government and
would like to join the efforts of the government and the stabilization. But
those who are affiliated and associated with the international terrorism groups
are never happy to have a government of Somalia in place. But the majority of
the Somali people are under the policy of the government together and are now
achieving results, we are progressing and will hopefully stabilize the country
within the coming couple of months.
SSI: Recently there was an attempt on your life and on some of your
colleagues. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And whom do you think was
P.M A Gedi: Of course, they are people who are
not willing to have any government and stability for Somalia. We describe them
as cowards because they cannot carry out any direct attack. So it was a landmine
and hand grenade and they were trying to disappoint the government and divert
our mission and objective. But that did not happen, we have continued with our
mission and we have achieved the expected results and that has attracted the
international community’s support to the government and also the support of the
Somali people to the government. But everywhere there are challenges and the
government is prepared to address these challenges.
SSI: Your Excellency, you just have concluded
a tour in Europe and participated in some meetings. Can you tell us about that,
with whom you met and what you have discussed in regards to peace and stability
in your country?
P.M. A Gedi: It was an official visit to Brussels to meet with
the relevant officials of the European Union and Commissioners. We met with the
development commissioner, His Excellency Luis Michel, we met with Javier Solana,
the political commissioner and we also met with the 25 ambassadors of the
European Union member states. And all of them were very supportive. We discussed
issues related to security restoration in Somalia; stabilization; reconstruction
and development. And they have pledged their full support financially and
politically and to advocate the faith of Somalia worldwide.
SSI: As we refer to Somalia today, we are
referring to Somalia without Somaliland. Because Somaliland has been taking its
own path for the last 14 years, what is the relationship today and what is the
relationship going to look like in the future?
Gedi: Somaliland is a Somalia entity first of all. They claim to break away from
the unity, but that is not the reality today. Somaliland today is a stable area
with a governance and stability, and the Transitional Federal Government of
Somalia is focusing on the rest of Somalia to be stabilized and security to be
restored. When we reach that stage, we are prepared to start dialogues with
Somaliland people and authorities for the future and the destiny of the Somali
SSI: When do you suppose that could happen?
P.M. A Gedi: As soon as
we stabilize the rest of Somalia.
there any timeframe that you have set?
P.M. A Gedi: Within the
time frame of our five-year mandate of course.
there any talks and meetings with the government in Somaliland and the
Transitional Federal Government?
P.M. A Gedi: Not yet.
As I have said, once we have to stabilize the rest of Somalia, we are prepared
to start dialogue with them.
We have had interviews with Somaliland authorities, and they are of the opinion
that you are their brothers, and if the Transitional Federal Government so
wishes them to cooperate, they can cooperate, but as a different entity not as
one entity (One Somalia). What do you have to say of this notion?
P.M. A Gedi: I don’t believe in different entities. The act of
union of the 1960 is still there, and the unity did not come with the
willingness of one part - it was a common understanding. It was a common
undertaking. And it still needs a common understanding and collective effort to
consolidate the Somalia unity under governance. It is within the transitional
federal charter of Somalia that Somalia is one country, it is one nation, and to
reach that objective it needs a combined effort and collective decisions and
consultations through dialogue. So we understand that maybe some international
actors are trying to advocate for the recognition of Somaliland but that will
SSI: You were quoted as saying if the international community
recognizes Somaliland we don’t have a problem, we will accept them. If that is
right and if the international community comes to recognize Somaliland as a
separate entity, what would be the outlook of your government?
P.M. A Gedi: First of all, the decision and destiny is in the
hands of the Somali people not in the hands of the international community. The
international community operates through the charter of the United Nations and
International Organizations. And in nowhere in that charter is a separation and
division of nations possible, so the recognition must come from the Somali
people through referendum, through acceptance and through willingness. That was
the process of the unity from the beginning and it needs the same process. No
country, no international organization can recognize them.
Somaliland calls for a referendum, would you support that, to see whether the
people would opt for unity or separation?
P.M. A Gedi -A
referendum must include all Somali people, not part of the Somali people. This
is not an easy task. It is not like local administration, it is the destiny of
the whole nation. So it must be all-inclusive and it must express all of
Somalia, if a referendum is deemed necessary for the restoration of the
SSI: Somaliland is a peaceful place. If you believe that it is still
within the framework of Somalia why wouldn’t your government cooperate with them
and try to stabilize the rest of Somalia? Wasn’t it possible to locate the
government in Somaliland for more secure operations?
P.M. A Gedi: First of all, let me clarify. From a political
point of view, still there are different degrees of stability and the government
is committed now to stabilize wherever is not stable. When we stabilize the rest
of Somalia we will open dialogue with Somaliland.
percentage of Somalia is now stable?
P.M. A Gedi : Almost the whole country is stable, but
what is lacking is local administration to run each respective area. We have
started the set-up of local administrations. That is what we are lacking, not
stability at all.
SSI: You are friendly with many countries, including Ethiopia, who
happens to have good relations with Somaliland. How do African countries like
Ethiopia advise you to look at Somaliland?
P.M. A Gedi :
The AU and the IGAD member states are focusing on Somalia and not Somaliland.
Somaliland is an entity of Somalia. Yes, we are encouraging them for the
stability they have achieved and the reconstruction activities they are passing
through. But politically speaking, all the AU countries and all the
International community are sticking to Somali unity and territorial integrity.
This is the common ground even within the charter of the United Nations. So
there is no abuse and aberration on that issue.
SSI: But the people of Somaliland have a bit further than just
stability. They have effectively carried out the democratization process,
installed government institutions and gone through election process more
effective than some African countries that have legitimacy. These achievements
cannot be overlooked by anyone, and on their part they are saying they need to
be rewarded for these achievements. What is your consideration of this?
P.M. A Gedi
: What is your mission? Are you advocating for the secession of
Somaliland from the rest of Somalia or are you just asking me for clarification
of what is happening -
SSI: I am
just asking for more clarifications, Sir.
P.M. A Gedi : I appreciate the effort of the Somaliland people
with respect to the stabilization, reconstruction and the governance they are
enjoying. But they are still an entity of Somalia. And that cannot be accepted
if there is no common sense. What we are calling for is to start a dialogue with
them, but it takes effort to start with. So rewarding in a sense is there, but
politically speaking Somaliland is a part and parcel of Somalia. So that is the
road map for the destiny of the Somali people and the Somali mission. Besides
Somaliland communities were included in the reconciliation process in Kenya.
These communities are part of the Parliament; they are part of my cabinet
ministries. The Deputy Prime Minister is from Somaliland, from Hargeisa. So
don’t consider only those staying in the geographical area of Somaliland, also
those who are part and parcel of the government. Hargeisa is not the only stable
place. There are similar places enjoying stability in the country. And all the
actions, the killings that were taking place in Somalia were also taking place
in Hargeisa. Not only in Somalia, it’s happening all over the world. So there is
no distinction between Somaliland and the rest of Somalia or Somalia and the
rest of the world.
SSI: How about the issue of pirates, which has drawn international
attention. It is said the coast of the Indian Ocean including the ports of
Mombassa and Zanzibar are being barred because of the piracy on the Somali
coast. What is being done to control this situation?
P.M. A Gedi
: This new phenomenon of piracy in the waters of the Indian Ocean
and the Red Sea is a dangerous one. It is affecting not only Somalia but the
whole passage of commodities, fishing activities, as well as tourism and
humanitarian supplies. We have several times appealed to the international
community to support the Transitional Federal Government in order to tackle this
problem. Efforts are now under way and there are consultations at the regional
and international level in order to address this and we are quite confident we
will be able to tackle the issue.
SSI: In one
way you are disarming the militia, but you also need security forces on the
other hand are you establishing a national army or police force?
P.M. A Gedi :
Of course within the demobilization process some of the former armed forces and
the national police and army will be reestablished. Most of the militias will be
trained for future police and national army, while part of them will be given
vocational training for integration back into society. So already the process of
reestablishing our national security forces are under process, and hopefully we
will strengthen them in collaboration with our neighboring countries and at the
regional level as well.
will the disarming of the militia start?
P.M. A Gedi : Already we have started. Already we have
demobilized 6,000 militia. They are in the camps, under training. According to
the availability of international support, and financial logistic availability
we are ready to continue with this mobilization.
SSI: At the time you moved out from Kenya, people thought the first
thing you were going to have to do is to dialogue with community leaders on the
grassroots level, and sort out a national reconciliation issues whereby you give
the community elders a responsibility to disarm. Not only militias, but at the
household level. But we have not heard so far that this has taken place. What
have you done in this regard?
P.M. A Gedi : The political reconciliation has taken place. We
agreed on a federal charter, on the parliament, and we have elected leaders and
formed the government. So what is remaining is grassroots-level reconciliation,
between communities and neighbors and different districts, and that is under
process. In fact in the road map of the reconciliation process in Somalia we
have planned to convene district-level and regional-level reconciliation
conferences, and finally we will conclude with a gathering of all the
representations from the different regions of Somalia in the capital city in
order to declare that the reconciliation of Somalia is complete and that the
government is running all over the country. So this is our road map. But still
there are loopholes. We have to stabilize parts of the country. There are places
where there is no control. So unless we put in place local administrations we
cannot even run these reconciliation conferences. We want to ask them questions.
What are the needs of your district or region? Of course they will say we need
security, we need administration. What is the obstacle to stability? They will
say the militias, the gunmen. Why don’t you put them in camps, why don’t you
train them, why don’t you reestablish your courts and your police stations. This
is the process, so once we complete this at the district level delegates will
come to the regional level and then to the national level. So this is our road
map, and we have confidence in carrying out these activities because of the
support of Somali people everywhere.
your personal opinion, what are the difficulties in the road map you just
explained and how do you aim to tackle them?
P.M. A Gedi: Challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Somalia
is not unique. But as a matter of priority we have security difficulties. In the
context of the road map we are trying to handle the issue. The only weakness
evident is the lack of financial support from the international community. Now
that we are in the early stages of the reconciliation process, we have the trust
and confidence that the donor community will support us. And if we get that
support we have all the strength and the credibility to carry out our
responsibilities and to stabilize the country.
SSI:One last question. When do you suppose the
Temporary Federal Government will have control over Mogadishu?
P.M. A Gedi: As I have told you it is a process,
and the transitional federal institutions are operating now in the capital city
with the leadership of the deputy prime minister, my minister of the interior.
Already some ministries are operating in the capital city. Our plan is to
stabilize and start operating fully within the capital city within the coming
three or four months.•
Monday, November 28, 2005