Somalia-Continuation of War by Other Means?

21 Dec 2004

35pages PDF

The declaration, in Kenya, of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004 was heralded as a breakthrough in Somalia's protracted crisis of statelessness and civil strife. But the peace process has gone largely downhill since then. The Transitional Federal Parliament's choice for interim president, Colonel Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, is divisive and controversial. To many Somalis, his election represents not a step toward peace but continuation of the war by other means. The status of the peace process is grim but not altogether hopeless. Yusuf and his partners need to use their political advantage to form a genuine government of national unity, rather than attempt to impose their own agenda on the transition. The international community needs to make clear that only if this happens will the TFG get the recognition and support it desperately seeks. The probable alternative is resumption of Somali's conflict through all-too-familiar means The archetypal Somali warlord, Yusuf's opposition to the now defunct Transitional National Government (TNG), his advocacy of a federal structure for Somalia and his close ties with neighbouring Ethiopia, together place him firmly in one camp in Somalia's long-running conflict. In order to cement his victory, Yusuf called for deployment to Somalia of a 20,000-strong multinational military force. His choice for prime minister and the composition of the first TFG cabinet confirmed his pursuit of a narrow political agenda, provoking a parliamentary revolt, a no-confidence vote (ostensibly for other reasons) and dissolution of the government.