06/07/09 (B506) Garowe OnLine / Somaliland : Deux partis d’opposition du Somaliland lancent un avertissement conjoint au Gouvernement pour qu’il ne retarde pas les élections présidentielles. // Oopposition warn government against election delay (En Anglais)

Two opposition parties in Somalia’s separatist republic of Somaliland issued a joint statement Sunday warning the government not to delay the presidential election again, Radio Garowe reports.

The joint statement from the only opposition parties in Somaliland, Kulmiye and UCID, stated that the presidential election has been « delayed four times » and that the opposition has « no confidence » in the Somaliland election commission.

« [Election delays] has created a political dispute and lack of confidence…for Somaliland democratic progress by worrying [world] governments, donors and the Somaliland public in general, » the statement read.

The statement warned that another election delay would be « sole responsibility » of the election commission and the current administration.

Further, the opposition parties recommended that the Somaliland election commission be « expanded by four new members, » while calling for « changing four members of political mediation committee. »

The opposition parties called on Somaliland’s ruling UDUB party to « immediately present its case regarding the election commission. »

Somaliland’s political crisis began in May 2008 when incumbent President Dahir Riyale’s five-year term in office was extended by an additional year by the upper house of parliament, the House of Guurti. Opposition parties condemned the extension and called it unconstitutional.

A year later, President Riyale received a second term extension after the House of Guurti to allowed him to remain in office until the presidential elections slated for the end 2009 are held.

Somaliland is located in northwestern Somalia and unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally yet.

03/12/08 (B476-B) Garowe On Line : Somalie: un partage du pouvoir signé à Djibouti qui est aussi inapplicable qu’illusoire et embarassant. // Somalia: An unrealistic and embarrassing power-sharing agreement (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

So did the UN give Sheikh Sharif and the ARS-Djibouti faction 275 seats on account of enjoying some support in Jowhar and Beletwein?

More than five months of United Nations-sponsored Somali peace talks ended last week with the signing of a "power-sharing agreement" between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS). Unfortunately, to say the least, key leaders within the TFG and the ARS have already rejected the power-sharing agreement, which calls for the dissolution of the TFG and the establishment of a two-year ‘Unity Government.’ Naturally, ‘unity’ comes at a very high price: 275 seats will go the ARS and smaller interest groups, undoubtedly with links to the ARS machinery.

Alas, we can say with firm conviction that all the violence and destruction was a struggle for political power. All the ill-equipped young boys who were sent to face off against the Ethiopian military machine and massacred in towns between Baidoa and Mogadishu, between Galkayo and Beletwein, and on Mogadishu’s gritty streets for two years, and all the mothers’ tears – it was all for power. It was about staying at fancy hotels in Djibouti City, Khartoum and Nairobi, and demanding from Somalia and the international community impossible things or threatening war. And without warning, it was a dramatic shift from ‘only Islamic law’ to ‘275 parliament seats.’

But who will give the ARS-Djibouti 275 parliament seats? Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has rejected the power-sharing deal, further dividing the TFG into rival camps with Prime Minister Nur Adde endorsing the agreement. ARS-Eritrea group, which includes prominent Islamic Courts Union (ICU) officials, much like ARS-Djibouti – has stuck to its principle of not negotiating until Ethiopian troops withdraw. Al Shabaab guerrillas, who control key towns in southern Somalia, have vowed to continue fighting regardless of Ethiopian pullout until the ultimate goal of Islamic rule is attained.

It took two years (2002-2004) to establish the current 275-seat TFG Parliament, with parliamentary seats divided delicately along clan lines (4.5 Formula). With the stroke of a pen, TFG and ARS factions in Djibouti hope to create an entire new government, with a new 550-seat parliament, a new Speaker and a new President by January 2009. There is no mention of workable such a huge parliament is; aside from the obvious logistical problems, the undeniable fact remains that ARS leaders will appoint the 275 additional seats allocated to the group. In Somalia, there is also the undeniable fact that the ARS leaders – and the ICU leadership, generally – are dominated by members of a particular clan-group (Hawiye). Not surprising, both the TFG and the ARS delegations were led by Hawiye politicians, who signed the deal before smiling for the cameras. Yesterday’s enemies, today’s dear and beloved.

In geographic terms, where is the ARS constituency in Somalia? Well, the separatist republic of Somaliland and the Puntland regional autonomy are excluded – so that effectively eliminates half the country. In the south (south of Galkayo), the ARS-Djibouti enjoys tentative support as demonstrated by ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s brief trip in October to Jowhar and Beletwein – two towns under ICU control. Because Sheikh Sharif did not visit Kismayo, under the control of al Shabaab, the ARS-Djibouti has no constituency in the Jubba regions to bring to the bargaining table. The TFG has a strong presence in Baidoa and is counter-force to Islamist influences in Bay and Bakool regions.

So did the UN give Sheikh Sharif and the ARS-Djibouti faction 275 seats on account of enjoying some support in Jowhar and Beletwein? It is a diplomatic embarrassment for the world body to be associated with an unreasonable, unrealistic and unworkable power-sharing agreement that is not recognized by anyone outside the circle who signed it.

10/11/08 (B473) Garowe / Le Premier Ministre somalien rend visite au Président du GNT qui suit un traitement médical annuel à Londres, pour des problèmes cardiaques. Son hospitalisation au Kenya aurait été rendue nécessaire parès une discussion tendue entre les deux hommes sur la réintégration ou non de ministres démissionnaires. // Somalia: PM Visits the President At London Hospital (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Somalia’s interim Prime Minister, Nur « Adde » Hassan Hussein, visited President Abdullahi Yusuf who is undergoing an annual medical treatment in London, Radio Garowe reported Saturday.

There was no official word following the closed-door meeting between Somalia’s top leaders, but government insiders said the discussions were centered on Prime Minister Nur Adde’s selections for a new Cabinet.

Last month, the East African regional body IGAD issued time-based benchmarks for the Somali transitional government to meet, including the appointment of new Cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Nur Adde’s pronounced decision to exclude ten pro-Yusuf ministers from the new Cabinet reportedly infuriated the Somali president and led to speculation of a renewed dispute.

19/10/08 (B470) Garowe On Line / Puntland : des hommes d’affaires du Puntland dénoncent le monopole de négoce du bétail. // Somalia: Puntland business leaders complain about livestock export monopoly (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Business leaders in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland met with the region’s traditional elders Friday in a bid to avert a growing crisis with the local government, Radio Garowe reported.

The meeting, held at Hotel Karama 2 in the northern port of Bossaso, was attended by members of the business community, intellectuals and traditional elders who wield influence in the region.

Ali Aden Said, a businessman, told the meeting that the Puntland government has « crippled the livestock export industry » by signing a deal with Saudi Arabian company al Jabberi.

Meeting of elders, business leaders/Oct.17

He said it is « unacceptable » for the Puntland leaders to prevent local traders from exporting livestock for profit aboard.

Under the controversial al Jabberi deal, only the Saudi company has the legal right to export Puntland livestock overseas for the next 15 years. READ: Livestock export disagreement deepens in Puntland

Mohamed Huruse, a wealthy trader, accused the government of « being against economic development, » while noting that Puntland leaders « gave an order » to shut down a separate animal quarantine center being built and financed by the region’ s business community.

Meeting of elders, business leaders/Oct.17

Ugas Hassan Ugas Yasin, a traditional elder, told the meeting that the elders and the Puntland government « agreed to have only one animal quarantine, » which belongs to al Jabberi.

The comment angered Mr. Said, who stood up and walked out of the meeting in frustration, according to witnesses.

Another traditional elder, Beeldaaje Ali Farah, attempted to cool off the situation by convincing the business community to wait for a new round of talks to resolve the dispute between business leaders and the Puntland administration.

A press statement issued by the business leaders indicated that the Somali transitional federal government and the Puntland Parliament have been officially informed about the dispute over the al Jabberi deal.

Further, the business leaders’ press statement said that they pay taxes regularly but have been « prevented from investing » in the Puntland economy.

The livestock industry is the backbone of Somalia’s meager economy.

13/10/08 (B469) Garowe On Line / Conférence en Afrique du Sud : arrivée d’une délégation gouvernementale somalienne et des représentants de l’opposition . // Somalia: Joint govt-opposition committees attending South Africa seminar (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

A delegation composed of government officials and opposition representatives from Somalia arrived in South Africa, Radio Garowe reported Sunday.

The 21-member delegation includes members of the Joint Political Committee and the Joint Security Committee – two special committees established under the tenets of the Djibouti Agreement.

The Somali delegation was invited to South Africa by the UN Political Office for Somalia, officials said.

While in South Africa, the delegates will participate at a seminar on political and security affairs.

Mohamed Mohamud Hayd, a Somali lawmaker, told the media that the delegations will jointly participate at a seminar on political and security affairs.

Delegation members plan to hold direct talks with South African government officials regarding a spate of recent killings targeting Somali immigrants, including the brutal murder of a mother and her three children earlier this month.

The Djibouti Agreement, signed between the Somali government and a faction of the armed opposition in June, calls for a ceasefire and the orderly withdrawal of Ethiopian forces.

But some armed groups have rejected the peace deal and vowed to continue the insurgency, which has led to the deaths of at least 9,500 people since January 2007.

Nearly 3 million people in Somalia are in need of food assistance, according to UN estimates. The current interim government, backed by Ethiopia, is the 14th attempt to restore national order in the war-torn Horn of Africa country since 1991.

11/10/08 (B469) Garowe On Line : Les pays de l’IGAD invitent officiellement le Gouvernement somalien (Président + premier ministre) à Nairobi, pour participer à une Conférence dont on ne connaît pas encore l’ordre du jour. // IGAD countries send official invitation to Somalia govt (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

All members of Somalia’s transitional federal government, including the President and the Prime Minister, have officially been invited to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi-based diplomats told Garowe Online.

The invitation was extended by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a grouping of seven East African countries that helped establish the Somali government in 2004.

The agenda of the IGAD-sponsored conference has not been made public yet, but Garowe Online sources say topics will range from the reconciliation process to rumors of a « new » government. [ Full story]

Somali lawmakers in the town of Baidoa, where the country’s parliament is based, have been holding group talks in recent days ahead of the conference’ s opening on October 27, sources said.

A group of ex-government officials, current MPs and Cabinet ministers and members of the opposition – excluding Islamic Courts officers – are « engaged in direct efforts » to influence the conference’s agenda, the sources added.

This group of politicians, who are openly opposed to President Abdullahi Yusuf, want to use the IGAD conference to propose that a new interim government be established for Somalia.

Some IGAD officers have confidentially told Garowe Online that Somalia has « a government in name, » while noting that President Yusuf and the parliament are at odds over Cabinet members.

IGAD governments, specially Ethiopia and Uganda who have troops in Somalia, want to restore national order in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

But Somali government leaders have been accused of internal bickering, as violence worsens across the country and the humanitarian crisis deepens.

Another round of peace talks between the Somali government and its Islamist-led opposition are supposed to open in Djibouti later this month.

10/10/08 (B469) Garowe On Line : l’Armée éthiopienne se prépare à attaquer le port de Kismayo. Somalia: Ethiopia army ‘to attack Kismayo’: (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Ethiopian forces deployed in parts of Somalia will soon be dispatched to the southern port of Kismayo, some 500km south of the capital Mogadishu, reliable sources tell Garowe Online.

A coalition of clan fighters and Islamist guerrillas captured Kismayo in August after defeating clan militia loyal to a warlord – Col. Barre Hirale, a member of the Somali parliament.

Hirale fled to Gedo region, where he has been busy persuading members of his Marehan clan for military support to retake Kismayo.

But government sources now tell Garowe Online that the Ethiopian army will aid Hirale’s clan militia in an organized attack on Kismayo.

Ethiopian officials reportedly attempted to reconcile Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and MP Hirale, who have been at odds for years, but failed after the Somali leader rejected the offer, according to the sources.

« The Ethiopians want to help Hirale attack Kismayo, but [President] Abdullahi Yusuf opposed the idea, » said the confidential source.

Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba region, is Somalia’s third-largest city after Mogadishu in the south and Hargeisa in the north.

Peace and tranquity has returned to Kismayo in recent weeks, although local residents now say they are anxious about renewed warfare in a city that has endured endless battles since the early 1990s.

10/10/08 (B469) Garowe On Line. Un porte parole du groupe Al Shabaab admet que son groupe pourrait reconsidérer ses positions concernant les attaques de l’aéroport et il dément les menaces contre les organisations humanitaires. // Somalia: al Shabaab address airport attacks, aid agency threats (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The spokesman for a Somali Islamist guerrilla group, al Shabaab, held a press conference via the telephone to local media, Radio Garowe on Thursday.

Muktar Robow « Abu Mansur » discussed many issues during the press conference, which included a question-answer session on topics ranging from airport attacks to threats against aid agencies.

He stated that « many false things » have been spread against al Shabaab, including the assassinations of prominent people, but categorically denied any connection to the killings.

« [Da’ar Hersi] Hoshow was committed to the jihad through his voice, » Abu Mansur said, referring to a traditional elder who was assassinated in Beletwein town earlier this week. [ Full story]

He condemned the killing while indicating that Islamist administrators in Beletwein were « investigating the matter. »

Abu Mansur also denied reports that al Shabaab threatened to kill members of a self-appointed clan union, known as the Hawiye Tradition and Unity Council. [ Full story]

« We respect them [Hawiye Council] whose members suffered in jail for defending the jihad, » the al Shabaab spokesman said, adding that the guerrilla had « no problems » with the Hawiye Council.

Abu Mansur, who said he is inside Mogadishu, told reporters that al Shabaab fighters have arrested four people and « will bring them to court » for committing various crimes, where the suspects will be judged under Islamic law.

On Mogadishu’s airport, Abu Mansur said « it is possible » for al Shabaab to reconsider the mortar attacks on the airport « if the people talk. »

He dismissed comments attributed to him about threats to international aid agencies, saying: « We have no specific problems with the aid agencies. But we closed down several offices of IMC and CARE [International]. »

Abu Mansur also rejected a comment attributed to him about Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, an Islamist leader who signed a peace deal with the Somali government.

« I never said there is war between us [al Shabaab] and Sheikh Sharif, » Abu Mansur said.

Also on Thursday, a Jubba Airways plane landed safely at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport without any mortar attacks.

Observers say al Shabaab’s change of tone is linked to changes on the ground, where Islamist fighters are slowly pulling apart as the ideological divide widens.