Ali Mohamed Aden stood before an audience Thursday and said he knows how to bring about peace in war-torn Somalia.
“It's a daunting task, but it is achievable,” said Aden, who lives in Lewiston and directs the Centre for Democracy and Political Reconciliation in Somalia.
Friday, November 18, 2011
After 20 years of war, and “unbearable” suffering of bloodshed and famine, Aden insisted there's “a window of opportunity to broker peace in Somalia among the clans and sub-clans at war.”
Peace could happen if the United Nations changed what Aden called its failed policy in Somalia, he said at a Great Falls Forum lecture.
The United Nations has appointed corrupt leaders in Somali who ought to be replaced with a clan leadership based on the Somali Constitution.
“It would be a good start to make peace," Aden said.
Because the U.N. has not empowered Somali clan leaders, the U.N. “is part of the problem now," he said. "They have to change their failed policies and work with clans.”
Aden listed the ways in which peace could happen.
The U.N. has to let clan leadership lead, and facilitate a mediation process. The Somali Constitution must become “the pillar” of resolving conflicts, and a local commission should be created to build local governments that can solve problems.
Clans are important in Somalia, and must become part of the solution, Aden said. Somalia, which has a population of 10 million and is the size of Texas, is organized by clans.
Clan leaders decide whether there is to be peace, war or economic development. In the 1950s and '60s, Somalia settled clan rivalry by agreeing on a Constitution ratified in 1961. That ushered in an era of democracy.
“It worked for nine years, until the president was assassinated,” Aden said. “We were the first country in East Africa that replaced its president without shots fired, without riots.”
The Constitution took into consideration conflict resolution and the regionalized clans. The United Nations wanted to create a federal government that further divides, Aden said. “That's one of the reasons we rejected it.” Not working with clans and the Constitution keeps chaos "going on and going on,” Aden said.
Problems like Somali pirates attacking ships off Africa occur because there's no government, and the pirates can do what they want, Aden said. The pirate problem would go away if Somalia had a functioning government.
Aden has been active in Somali politics since the war began in the early 1990s, said Lewiston Library Director Rick Speer, in introducing him.
Aden came to the United States in the 1980s to study. He holds degrees in business, economics and computer programming, and has done computer programming for the IRS, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Air Force, Speer said. Today, he runs Gateway Tutoring Academy in Lewiston to help students in math and science.
Aden said his center is working with the State Department. He asked audience members to contact their members of Congress to urge changes that will bring peace.
“We want the United Nations to know the facts, that the clans want peace,” Aden said. “This is the message we will take to the American public.”