By Mohamud Uluso
Public reactions to the Aden declaration by President Abdullahi Yusuf of Somalia and Speaker Sharif Hassan of Somalia on January 5 in Aden, Yemen, were varied.
Some hailed it as step forward, while others felt it as a move that shattered chances of resolving the stalemate stalking the Somali government.The recognition of the primary importance of the national interest and respect of the provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter are the main positive elements in the declaration.
However, it failed to address the central issues that caused the TFG split in the first place, namely the seat of the government and the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Somalia. It also provided little guide for solving these issues.
In addition to the initial issues that paralysed the government, recent unilateral actions of Jowhar group worsened the situation. These included the appointment of new State and deputy ministers, ambassadors and other officials, the promotion of top police and military officials and the recruitment of militias in various parts of the country.
Others are the joining of Somalia to Sanaa Forum, the signing of many international agreements, the implementation of the Joint Needs Assessment, the formation of Mogadishu administration, the implementation of development projects in Jowhar, the disbursement of funds from donors.
Last year, the President Yusuf rejected the mediation of the Special Representative of UN Secretary General- Kofi Annan-, while the Speaker Sharif supported it. Now the President and the Speaker have accepted the mediation of President Ali Abdalla Saleh of Yemen. It difficult to tell the reasons for the change of heart, but what’s clear it that the two leaders are giving national unity a chance.
Nonetheless, the venue, format and the agendas of talks between the President and Speaker were not debated in advance, especially within Mogadishu group and this could undermine the trust that existed between the Speaker and his group. With the events in Yemen, new alliances are likely to be formed and the political game prolonged with no clear winners and losers. The Speaker gained more support and trust among Members of Parliament and the Somali people because he stuck with the Charter and acted to protect national interest, but that was then.
The Aden Declaration has serious implications that deserve comment. On one hand, it is a victory for the President and Government of Yemen for a number of reasons. One, it neutralizes previous accusations by the Mogadishu group, including the Speaker against Yemen over alleged interference and partiality in the Somali conflict.
Two, it legitimizes the increase of Yemen support to President Yusuf. Three, it deflects the UN’s anger against Yemen with regard to breaking the arms embargo resolution by supplying arms to President Yusuf.
Four, it reverses the previous failure of President Saleh’s mediation between the Somali President and Speaker. Five, it enhances Sanaa Forum’s purpose and performance. The irony is,
Somalia joined the Forum without adopting the necessary legal framework in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter. As an extension, it seems that the Somali peace process is now shifted to the Sanaa Forum represented by Yemen and away from UN and Igad umbrella.
On the other hand, the Aden Declaration is a victory for Italian government efforts to make the Mogadishu group irrelevant. The Italian news agency (Ansa) hailed the Aden declaration as “defeat of Mogadishu warlords since the Speaker switched to the side of President Abdullahi.”
The agency alleged that President Abdullahi will receive formal recognition and massive foreign assistance following the defection of the Speaker Sharif, who was a political cover for Mogadishu warlords.
The Aden Declaration coincides with the trip of the Italian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfredo Mantica, to Ethiopia and Jowhar.
Mantica was quoted as saying that the Aden Declaration “had concluded” the Somali peace process that started in October 2002. He added that the international community had endorsed the Italian position of favouring public institutions over political representation and the principles of reconciliation.
The agency hinted that Parliament would be convened at Baidoa on clan swap strategy– though Mogadishu, |Jowhar and Kismayu had been chosen earlier. Those opposed to Mogadishu claim that it is not safe.
I am sure the Aden Declaration will present new developments that are difficult to fathom, at least for now.
By Mohamud Uluso
the Writer is a former Cabinet Minister
and Governor Central Bank of Somalia
E-mail: [email protected]