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Obasanjo urges new job creation approach for Africa

By PAUL WAFULA  Published by Africa Review Tuesday, August 7  2012 at  13:54

 

An international conference on leadership and wealth creation is underway in the Kenyan coastal city of Nairobi.

The 3rd Africa Governance, Leadership and Management Convention started Monday and is being attended by delegates from more than six countries including various business leaders.

Speakers include former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, UNDP Africa Bureau head Tegegnework Gettu and Dr Donald Kaberuka, the president of the African Development Bank.

Other speakers include renowned Kenyan industrialist Dr Manu Chandaria, United Bank of Africa Kenya boss Tunji Adeniyi and the chief executive of the Nation Media Group, Mr Linus Gitahi.

It will discuss wealth and job creation on the continent as population growth continues to outpace economic expansion and hundreds of thousands of graduates go jobless.

"We cannot expect that someone else will come and create jobs for Africa unless we do it ourselves. Everyone is tired of the same song about poverty in Africa and we should now change the drum beat,” Mr Obasanjo, who is also the patron of the conference, said Sunday ahead of the official opening of the four-day meeting.

Host Kenya created about 500,000 jobs last year, most of which were in the informal sector, and participants will also discuss the role of African institutions in wealth creation.

The meeting is organised by among others the Africa Leadership Forum and the United Nations Development Program.

 
 
Thursday, 14 June 2012 21:16

 

In what many consider "a new blue print" the Obama's White House has announced a new US strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on the continent's economic potential.

In what sounds like a strategy of hope and optimism stated that, Africa, a continent torn by poverty, corruption and discord could be the world’s next big economic success story.

The strategy  also explores issues related to democracy, security and development on the continent. Tapped from diverse sources involving a rigorous process that drew on the expertise of leaders from both inside and outside of government including African voices, the US government believes that the new strategy will place the US in a stronger position to help its African partners seize the opportunities and meet the challenges facing the continent.

President Barack Obama said African democracy had improved but corruption was endemic in many countries and state institutions were weak.

One key area of interest in the strategy is the US planned response to China's increasing influence on the continent through investment and trade.

The president stated that he would work with Congress to develop preferential trade agreements with African countries, while fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates on the continent.

"As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular," said Mr Obama, the US-born son of a Kenyan man.

The White House said its new Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa provides "a proactive and forward looking vision grounded in partnership".

A bid to increase trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa is among its aims.

Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment of any developing region in the world. Hillary Clinton US secretary of state

The US administration is reaching out to entrepreneurs through exchange programmes. It will try to match US and Africa companies for business opportunities.

The strategy is the result of four months of work, during which advisers looked at how to address the challenges the continent faces from famine to instability as well as the continent's economic potential.

The announcement indicates a renewed focus on Africa, but as the plan is short on detail for now it is unclear how the strategy differs from what the administration has been doing so far, she says.

Obama has also highlighted food security challenges, and in May unveiled a scheme designed to lift 50 million people, including in Africa, out of poverty by linking up governments, civil society groups with the private sector.

He also maintained former president George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has improved life expectancy on the continent and will support lifesaving treatment for six million people by the end of next year.

 

 
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Examining The U.S. Policy Response to Entrenched African Leadership

By Eric Acha

The tides could be turning on the Cameroon leadership following a senate hearing that took place on April 18 2012 at the US Senate/Subcommittee on Africa that was dominated with discussions on the Biya one-man-leadership that has been in power for over three decades. The Tsunami on Biya and Cameroon was unleashed in opening remarks by the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the US State Department; Johnie Carson’s in which he revealed that following the conclusions of the 2011 presidential elections in Cameroon, he wrote to president Biya, urging the reestablishment, as soon as possible the term limit and the implementation of constitutional reforms and a more transparent and an independent electoral commission.

In his remarks to the committee that narrowed and focused on Cameroon, Hon Johnie Carson accused the Cameroon political leaders of the ruling party to have taken advantage of the country’s relative stability, prosperity and system of patronage to entrench their leadership. He added that the little oil that Cameroon has got has helped to provide a cushion to Paul Biya and encourage a patronage system as well as fuelled corruption in the country. In his words:

 “Oil has been behind some of the corruption and patronage that has helped to keep Paul Biya in power”

In what seem to be the first and most damning declaration from a senior US official regarding the 2011 presidential elections in Cameroon, Hon. Carson unflinchingly declared before the committee that the 2011 presidential elections in Cameroon were seriously flawed; polling stations opened late, citizens were allowed to vote multiple times in some cases, ballot box stuffing and voters intimidations were observed in various parts of the country.

He lamented the fact that the Supreme Court received credible complaints of fraud from opposition parties, but unfortunately the court unjustly dismissed all the cases. This testimony and open declaration by Hon Johny Carson of the US State department goes far to explain why the US has until this day, not sent any form of congratulatory message to president Biya following the October 2011 presidential elections.

On comparing the US policy response between Cameroon and Senegal where both Wade and Biya had “tinkered” their constitutions by removing term limits, Carson explained that the US acted differently in Cameroon because the threat of violence and wide spread instability was not as great or as serious as it appeared to be in Senegal on the eve of the presidential elections. This is clear confirmation of the role the people’s power played in stopping Wade from another term in office. In contrast to the passive civil society in Cameroon, the Senegalese active civil society played a key role in organizing the grassroots support that quickly turned into an anti Wade movement.

In his closing remarks, Hon Johnie Carson remained optimistic about the future of Cameroon. He reiterated the popular believe that a democratic change is invertible in Cameroon, especially with President Biya getting close to 80 years old, implying that if the change doesn’t come from Cameroonians themselves, time will catch up with him eventually.

He called upon and persuaded the Senate/subcommittee on Africa to write to President Paul Biya in the same way the senates wrote to President Wade of Senegal, calling on him to respect the democratic norms so as to enable a smooth and peaceful transition of power in Cameroon.  He also called on the Senate to remind Biya that the international community is focused on what is happening in Cameroon and the need to put stronger institutions which will ensure a stable transition when it comes.

On the second panel of the hearing, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Director for Africa at the national Democratic Institute (NDI) reminded and brought to the attention of the committee that for the past 50 years, Cameroon has failed to conduct national elections that were not overshadowed by controversy. Fomunyoh stressed that in Cameroon, the opaque handling of electoral processes and government-imposed hurdles impede the ability of civil society and independent media to monitor and report on elections.

He decried the fact that, the Cameroonian youth, prompted by restrictive laws and a lack of confidence in the country’s political system and institutions, are becoming apathetic and apprehensive of their future

Dr Fomunyoh who is widely expected to play a key role in the transition process in Cameroon raised legitimate concerns to the committee on the fact that, the lack of political will to create the appropriate framework for credible democratic elections in Cameroon, while preserving an entrenched regime in power, may push the country to the brink of violence and instability.

He equally called on the need to strengthen and embolden the Cameroonian civil society, giving their importance to the democratization process in Cameroon

Other panelists to the hearing included Dr. Mo Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Hon Earl Gast Assistant Administrator for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development. Amongst the senior senators and committee members present for the hearing were Dem. Senator John Kerry and Senator Isakson.

 

For the complete testimoy from all 4 speakers, visit the APF repository on this link:

http://www.africanpolicyforum.org/index.php?option=com_jdownloads&Itemid=41&view=viewcategory&catid=11

 
 
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 15:42

By Abdi Ismail Samatar

Abdi Ismail Samatar is professor of geography at the University of Minnesota and a fellow at the University of Pretoria.

The upcoming summit may put the country on the road to peace, stability and democracy.

Minneapolis, MN - The upcoming London Conference on Somalia is, potentially, a promising occasion to finally put the country on the road to peace, stability and democracy. Whether this opportunity is realised will be largely contingent upon the willingness and ability of the participants to chart a new course that takes full stock of the genuine and long term needs of the Somali people. Only through a just course and able order can terrorism and piracy in Somalia be defeated, and regional security restored.

Thus, so far, more than a dozen conferences on Somalia have produced unsustainable, incompetent and costly transitional dispensations that had ill-served the Somali people or those members of the international community in solidarity with it. The key political strategy of the past 20 years has been anchored on this flawed assumption: the cause of the Somali political disaster has been due to the neglect of clan identity in political affairs of the country.

Consequently, it has been argued that political injustices of the past can only be remedied by formally deploying political tribalism as the sole paradigm and means of structuring political representation in government and the distribution of public service posts. This approach was formalised in the 2000 Arta Conference and has marked all subsequent political developments in Somalia.

 

More than two decades of practical experience has demonstrated the acute dysfunctionality of the political formula, and all transitional governments have been severely shackled by it. This tribal political agenda injects four most serious maladies into the political process. First, it closes off the usable memory of exemplary lessons from times of national unity and collective dignity; second, it degrades and then marginalises competence and merit by artificially equalising the capacity and integrity of all individuals from the same genealogical community; third, it transforms a minor cultural difference within communities and among Somalis into major political rifts, and, finally, because of such division, it encourages endless retailing of identity which then demands political representation.

Consequently, every small "identity group" insists on being represented in parliament, government and the civil service. Such demands have led to outrageously oversized parliaments and cabinets and a bloated civil service. Tribal representation, then, has become an end in itself. This ambience has made tackling the critically needed delivery of services, such as security, education, health and infrastructure, virtually impossible. Instead, a significant portion of the meagre resources of the country and aid continue to be consumed by such unsavoury operations.

The priority of the international community over the past two decades has been to stabilise Somalia by supporting such a tribalist or clientalist political agenda and proxy regional interventions. However, this strategy continues to destabilise the country, concreting divisions among the population, enabling pirates and terrorists, and encouraging corrupt officials to flourish - at the cost of the wellbeing of the population and the genuine investment of the international community. 

But the situation need not stay as it is. On the contrary, there is a clear alternative - one that can at once eliminate all forms of piracy and terrorism, revive and invigorate civic unity among the population and lead to a democratic and peaceful Somalia. 

A most plausible alternative

Informed people report that the London conference might not get away from the sectarian political formula in order to jumpstart Somalia's post-transition era. It would be extremely tragic and most unfortunate if this opportunity were squandered, particularly given the population's hunger for a just and competent government, as well as the opening that the withdrawal of al-Shabab forces from Mogadishu has created.

Repeating failed political projects of the past two decades, such as political tribalism, warlordism, sectarian Islamism and clientialist Somali regimes engineered from outside are certain to meet the same fate. Equally dismaying and disheartening will be to allow the current transition to continue or to reinvent bankrupt scenarios that are a grotesque parody of what can and ought to be.  

Now, there is a most plausible alternative that can produce a win-win outcome for all concerned. There are five pillars of such a strategy: 

  • Establishing a civic political agenda that can subvert the sectarian tribal dispensation
  • Building a three-year government of national reconstruction
  • Instituting a constituent assembly consisting of 100 eminent Somalis from all regions and walks of life
  • Training and deploying a coherent and professional security and police force that can replace the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) within two years
  • Guaranteeing a substantial, carefully accounted for and sustained commitment from the international community.

A civic political strategy

An alternative to the current destructive degeneration is a plan whose core values stress civic commonality, justice and effective delivery of key services to the population. Our experience in different parts of the country has taught us that the vast majority of the population cares less about tribal representation, but is deeply concerned about the absence of conditions conducive to socio-economic development.


Somalia's global diaspora

Obviously, to undertake the pursuit of effective delivery of justice, order and services presuppose institutions founded on merit and competence that are the antithesis of the current political formula. Thus, at this opportune moment, it is necessary to revise the political logic of the past two decades and transform representation into a means of activating democracy, justice, and good governance. This will recharge common civic sentiments. The material effect of such reform will mean fewer political representatives, a smaller, legitimate and efficient government, and a demonstrably skillful civil service.

A constituent assembly

A decisive decision to turn representation into a means for producing democratic and able government will immediately translate into a much smaller national parliament and government. In this scenario, the new parliament must not exceed 135 MPs, rather than the current 550. As a result, parliamentary constituencies will be fewer and will cover larger geographical areas, with inclusive rather than exclusive communities.

The first step in this reform, is to replace the current Transitional Federal Parliament with a small Constituent Assembly of 100 people, whose sole mandate would be to guide a constitution-making process that will lead the country towards a democratic election within two years. Members of this assembly will be barred from standing for the first parliamentary election or becoming part of the post-election government.

They must also be men and women of outstanding civic credentials who have consistently demonstrated their commitment to justice, competence, and the collective wellbeing of the Somali people. To be sure, selecting such people will not be simple, but it is quite feasible if enough commitment and wise energy is forthcoming from the international community.

One way to jumpstart this process is to identify three outstanding citizens of three countries which have not been, heretofore, involved in Somali problems. Among such countries are South Africa, Norway and Turkey. Immediately after this, a system will be put into place through which Somalis from various regions could nominate individuals - individuals whose CVs and public records would be rigorously scrutinised by the three-person committee. A small technical team that will develop the basic selection criteria will support the committee. A transparent assessment of the candidates will be conducted by the three panel committee and can produce a regionally balanced short list of 100 individuals, plus a reserve list of 50. The final list will be carefully vetted and then announced in Mogadishu by July 30, 2012.

The task of the assembly will be to act as a quasi-legislative (caretaker) authority that will select a small constitutional committee to draft a national charter, based on the 1961 democratic constitution. In addition, it will have the authority to protect Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity during its tenure; and will be responsible for overseeing the election of a national parliament at the end of two years - as well as watching over the shift from the government of national reconstruction to the democratic state. 

The African Union mission could be replaced with a professional domestic police force  [GALLO/GETTY]

A technocrat cabinet

For more than a decade, various transitional governments have had huge cabinets (with more than 50 ministers and their deputies), simply to accommodate a bizarre tribal representational formula. Because of their size and the culture of ineptness that the political formula engendered, the regimes were not equipped to do the least bit of work, such as rebuilding the machinery of the state and, consequently, had little capacity to affect positive change.

In contrast, the heart of the national government for reconstruction would be a more nimble and smaller structure consisting of ten ministries, whose main assignment over the next two years would be to focus on rebuilding the capacity of each department and make them ready for takeoff, once a democratic government is elected. These ministries should comprise the following:

  • Security and defence
  • Economic development and planning
  • Education
  • Health
  • Public works and transport
  • Foreign affairs and international relations;
  • Interior
  • Water resources and environment;
  • Commerce, industry and mining;
  • Agriculture, livestock and marine.

In tandem with other reforms, the individuals who will occupy these posts will be selected on the basis of a combination of merit and regional representation. However, competence will trump representation whenever the two criteria collide. Moreover, those who are asked to serve in the time of reconstruction will not be eligible to compete for the post-reconstruction government.

A professional security force

Somalia's many transitional regimes failed to build a security force that had the capacity to restore order and gain the quick respect of the population. Without the establishment of such a force, there is no chance that a peaceful and democratic Somali government could re-emerge. It is, therefore, imperative that utmost attention should be given to this institution. There is a feasible way to start rebuilding a national police force and a small, mobile and effective defence force.

To start with, a clear and fixed date must be set, within two years, for AMISOM to leave the country. During this period, Turkey and Norway could be given the lead to train Somali defence forces, while Germany could lead the police training project. It is vital that the training of the Somali forces be done in one place, such as Djibouti, and under one command.


Inside Story: How relevant is African Union?

There are enough young Somalis from all regions who have a secondary school level education that can be recruited to the forces to populate lower and mid-level cadets and officer cadres. Similarly, there are sufficient number of university educated Somalis who will be attracted to join the forces and be trained for senior level posts. How the recruitment and the training process is done will determine the fruitfulness of the project.

If such a programme is initiated in July, the earliest recruits should be ready for deployment within a year and should be able to replace AMISOM in the more secure areas of the country. For these forces to be successful, it is necessary that there be an independent commission of Somalis, coupled with experienced others, who will mentor and monitor the forces. The size of the national police force must be 20,000 strong and the sum of the defence force (including the coast guard) should not exceed 10,000.

A sustained international commitment

Transforming Somalia is pivotal to changing the fortunes of the Horn of Africa from a region known for endless wars, dictatorship, and overall wretchedness to a zone where people's talents and natural resources are deployed to improve the quality of life of ordinary citizens. If the London conference pursues an ethical and determined strategy whose centre of gravity is justice for the Somali people, then it will trigger a regional civic and political spirit.

Such a change will turn attention to work on economic growth and development, peaceful transformation of conflicts, and a renewal of tolerant, if not cosmopolitan, Somali culture at its best. Regrettably, past conferences held for Somalia were never followed up with sustained, sufficient, and systematic material and moral support for the country. On the contrary, divisive and instrumentalist agendas dominated international community interventions and the consequences have been dire for all concerned.

The London conference must radically break with that pattern. To do so could begin with the establishment of a small and unified council, led by Norway, Turkey and South Africa, that is empowered materially and politically to orchestrate international support for Somalia. This effort must be free from self-serving regional or international agendas.

The commanding objective, then, must be this: to assist Somalia to re-emerge as a democratic, productive, and law-abiding country at peace with its people, its neighbours and the world. The promise of the London conference cannot be over-stated. It is a strategic opportunity and can, unlike other gatherings that preceded it, usher in a humane and democratic era - not only in Somalia, but also across the entire region. This hope can be realised only if the population's desperate need for civic rebirth and unity is the anchor of the proceedings.  

Abdi Ismail Samatar is a Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota and a research fellow at the University of Pretoria. He is a founding member of the new Somali political party, Hiil Qaran.

 
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 14:45

By Eric Acha

London: 14 February 2012

Image by Reuters

Somalia is once again in the spot light, this time from a rather rare, positive and an optimistic perspective. The highly anticipated London Conference on Somalia will be hosted by the British government on 23 February 2012 in London. The conference is geared at rallying the international community and increasing efforts aimed at resolving the almost two decade long conflict in Somalia.

Having been tagged repeatedly with the failed –state banner, there is some optimism within the international community to see renewed efforts geared towards resolving the challenges facing the country. Policy experts have been left baffled over the last 20 years and have failed to recommend viable policies to end the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and rendered the country ungovernable for so many years.

It is no secret that the United Nations, the African Union and the rest of the international community’s policy towards Somalia has failed. The question on the minds of many sceptics and pessimist today is “what shall the London conference achieve?” What new theme is being discussed that has not been discussed in the past and what new viable concept is the UK going to introduce that has not yet been tried in the past.

As the world eagerly looks forward to the outcome of the London conference, the UK foreign ministry is well convinced that the conference will mark a new beginning for Somalia. In their effort to show case this optimism, senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organisations have been invited to convene in London on February 23, with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. Top on the agenda of the half day conference will be to discuss how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in Somalia, and then possibly come out with a roadmap for the country.

The thematic areas to be discussed include:

1.     Security: When it comes to security, Somalia has and continues to rely solely on the African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM). AMISOM is mandated with conducting Peace Support Operations in Somalia to stabilize the situation in the country in order to create conditions for the conducting of Humanitarian activities.

Amongst the challenges facing AMISOM, are its sources of funding. Though the foot soldiers making up AMISOM are contributed by AU member states, the mission has been reliant on external bodies and stake holders who more often than usual have conflicting interests. Besides funding, AMISOM is continuously humiliated by an insurrection of internal factions within Somalia, who regard the mission as an occupying force. The ideology being propagated by members of these resistance factions is that, so long as AMISOM continue to carry out its mission in Somalia, the country will never be able to build its own national security force that will be answerable to a legitimate Somaliland government and not to foreign forces.

This therefore explains why security will be one of the sticky and tricky issues at the London conference. The most feared faction in the country at the moment is the al-Shabab militant group.

2.   Political Process: Talking of a political process, there hasn’t been any viable and a sustainable political process in Somalia for the last 20 years, whence the reason why there is no legitimate government in the country. What is currently being referred to as a political platform in the country is build on a muddy and flawed framework designed to serve the interest of factions and tribes within Somalia rather than the entire Somaliland as a nation. Critics; both scholars and policy experts have argued that the political strategy has been weaved around untenable assumptions. Abdi Ismail Samatar; a professor in Geography and one of the country’s most vocal critics has argued that one of the reasons behind Somalia’s inability to build a sustainable governments is because the international community has encouraged and supported a tribalist and clientalist political agenda in the country, a situation that led to divisions and corruption within the population.

With a parliament made up of more than half a thousand MPs for a country of that size, it becomes evidently clear that the agenda of such a parliament is not to nourish and build an able government for the country but rather aimed at sharing the national cake to the various tribes constituting Somaliland. This makes it practically impossible to genuinely debate and pass legislature governed by the democratic principle for the interest of Somalia as a nations.

This therefore implies that for Somalia to move forward and be guaranteed a governable state and a sustainable government, the London conference must agree on what should replace the current Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and that will be accepted by all Somalians. How to transform the transitional institutions in Mogadishu into structures that will ensure and foster socio-economic and political developments will be top on the topic’s agenda.

Whatever ever entity that would replace the TFG, it must be able to operate within a broad constitutional framework, and whether such an entity will be sub national or a full national government remains a question to be answered.

Local Stability: With factions fighting each one another and all with diverse and opposing opinions and agendas, maintaining stability within the Somaliland borders has proven to pose a daunting challenge to all the stake holders involved so far. Critics and sceptics of the current efforts to maintain stability within the country have argued that the international community has encouraged and continue to support a dual-track policy which exploits Somalia’s fragmented community and conflict for resource and power competition. This concept has sawn a seed of distrust into many Somalians who approach every single effort aimed at stabilizing the country with often misplaced suspicion. Most Somalians will be expecting a renewed and transparent package from the conference that will fairly encourage efforts geared toward stabilizing the country.

4.   Counter Terrorism: For most part of its existence over the last 20 years or so, Somalia has been regarded as a breeding ground for terrorism on the horn of Africa. It has provided shelter and acted as a save heaven for some of the most feared terrorists around the world. The absence of an able government in the country encouraged and nourished an environment of lawlessness, where terrorist cells and networks could flourish undeterred.

5.    Piracy: It is believed that Somalia has one of the most sophisticated and dangerous piracy networks in the world that has over the years transformed into a million dollar business model. Though this new gold mind industry for the pirates may be only a million dollar industry, the economic cost of their pirate activities is estimated in billions. In a recent recent paper by Anna Bowden and Shikha Basnet published by the One Earth Future Foundation, it is estimated that Somali piracy cost between $6.6 and $6.9 billion in 2011, down from a figure of $7 to $12 billion in 2010, and the shipping industry bore over 80 percent of these costs as a result of ransoms, higher insurance, security equipment and guards, re-routing of ships, increased speed and burning of more fuel, compensation of kidnapped seafarers, prosecutions and imprisonment, military operations, and the creation of anti-piracy organizations etc etc.

The international community has mobilised resources in the past to fight this crime, but with little success, giving the absence of a reliable government in the country that is capable of coordinating such efforts.

The London conference is expected to designed new strategies that will effectively combat a networked generating millions of dollars to many Somalians who have adopted piracy as a way of life. On one of the many propaganda websites managed by some factions in the country, they are of the opinion that talks on fighting piracy are ill intended, and aimed at restricting Somali territorial water and the utilization of marine resources, imposition of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), continuation of illegal fishing and dumping toxic waste. The London conference is therefore tasked with introducing a much more robust strategy to effectively combat this crime. This may involve socio-economic alternatives for those most venerable to the flourishing piracy industry.

6.     Humanitarians: What the half-day conference aims at achieving, especially on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia keeps pondering the mind of many experts, many of whom are of the view that the humanitarian crisis in Somalia require a gathering of its own, giving the magnitude and implications of the crisis. The refugee problems emanating from Somalia have spread into neighbouring countries and hence becoming a regional rather than a national issue.

Internally Displaced People in SomaliaInternationally displaced peoples (IDP) camps are scattered all across the country and border towns in neighbouring countries. The atmosphere in most of these camps is often that of fear and hunger. These groups of displaced Somalians are constantly frightened by the threats coming from Al-Shahab. Besides the insecurity issue, natural disasters such as drought add more stress and pressure onto these vulnerable communities, making a bad situation even worse.

Earlier this year, the UN spokes person in Mogadishu; Russell Geekie described the situation as the worse and largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Until the World Food Program stepped up their effort and increased their presence in Somalia last December, the under-funded Somali Rehabilitation and Development Agency was the sole arbiter in most of these IDP camps.

So as we all look forward to the London conference with great optimism, the reality is that the half day conference is unlikely to achieve any tangible results with regards to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. The humanitarian crisis deserves another gathering of its own.

7.   International Coordination: If one were to select a country as a lab for testing international and inter-organisational policy, Somalia would be the perfect policy lab. The country has served as a policy-testing lab for one failed policy after the other over the last 20 years. International and regional organisations have worked hand in hand alongside bilateral partners to design a sustainable and viable policy that could help end the conflict tearing the country without any success.

The United Nations, together with the African Union have champion and led such experimental policies, but as we all know today, none has been successful. There have been claims and counter claims on why no policy seem to be a viable policy for Somalia. On one hand, the international community and other partners are blamed for not addressing the root causes of the conflict while on the other hand, Somalians themselves have been accused of jeopardizing and frustrating every single endeavour aimed at stabilizing and bringing peace to the country. This therefore implies that whatever comes out of the London conference, it will be practically impossible to effectively implement any viable policy without the full and unconditional participation of the Somalians.

Ambassador David Shin, (former US ambassador to Ethiopia and Bukina Faso) recently stated that he doubts that it will be possible to end the conflict in Somalia unless the Somalis huddle to discuss their future at their expenses inside Somalia without foreign participation. The reality we know is that, left alone, Somalia is nowhere close to resolving its conflict without foreign assistance. They have continuously demonstrated over the past 20 years that they are unable to put their house in order without external assistance.

The good news is that the London conference seems to be a new dawn in the attempt to end the conflict on the Horn of Africa.

 
 

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