Uganda President Threatens to Withdraw Troops if TFG Leaders Keep Bickering
TFG President Sharif
The International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia is currently playing host to a two-day summit in Kampala, Uganda, under the chairmanship of the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Philip Mahiga. The focus of these meetings is to discuss ongoing developments in Somalia and related issues.
High-level delegations from Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Aden, traveled to Kampala to participate in the discussions at the 19th meeting of the ICG on Somalia. Both, however, came with different agendas.
In addition, the leader of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, President Mohamed Abdirahman Farole, also attended.
The ICG has expressed its continued support for the road map intended to establish a permanent government in Somalia, to include a new national constitution.
“We are urging the leaders of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) to come to an early agreement on the question of the elections, as well as to agree on a time frame for an extended transition,” Ambassador Mahiga said.
According to Mahiga, the Somalia legislature has insisted that there should be an election for the presidency, as well as for the deputy and the speaker, by the parliament on or near July 9th, before the end of the transition, which is currently scheduled for August 20, 2011.
Election Date Dispute Ongoing
Somali’s President Sheikh Sharif said that the TFG has proposed a 12-month postponement of these elections, in the light of ongoing momentum of current security successes against al-Shabaab extremists.
President Sharif expressed his opinion that, given the ongoing successful efforts to bring stability to the area, elections would only serve to disrupt this process and, conversely, return Somalia to the previous chaotic and unstable environment that existed prior to the arrival and successes of the security forces.
“We believe that elections by their very nature, and particular in the Somali context, will create unnecessary political and social instability that could dampen the spirit of our victorious troops and the supporting public,” Sharif said.
Speaking at the summit, President Ahmed urged that a 12-month window would allow the TFG to complete the critical remaining tasks such as completion of a draft constitution, establishment of necessary parliamentary reforms, and vital improvements in the security sector.
However, the current Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP), Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, publicly opposed the president’s propositions and voiced his opinion that the only way to promote and ensure success for a stable Somalia is to hold the elections at the previously proposed date of July 9, 2011.
Speaker Hassan has repeatedly stated that the election for the presidency and the institution of the new executive would have negative effects, shifting the focus away from completing the transitional agenda and from dealing with the ongoing conflicts. He also considers the Parliament’s self-extension as illegal unless the President endorses it.
Puntland Pres Farole (left) and TFG Parliament Speaker Hassan (right)
These political disputes are apparently creating frustration for some groups who are actively seeking a stable Somalia.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni conveyed to the leaders of the TFG the frustration of the international community over their continuing political differences and lack of cooperation.
“Our primary reason for going to Somalia has always been to protect the TFG, but if the TFG continues to demonstrate its inability to resolve its internal disputes, then we won’t have any reason for our security forces to remain in that region,” Museveni said. “The TFG should solve its current political situation as soon as possible or I will withdraw Ugandan troops from Somalia.”
President Museveni urged the international community to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by providing much needed military equipment. He cited AMISOM’s successes in Mogadishu as proof of the mission’s ability to provide stability and security to those sections of the city it has occupied.
“We need to fight in the air and by sea so that we remove the extremist fighters,” he said, “because I believe al-Qaeda are from the Middle East not in Somalia.”
Museveni promised to remove the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabaab from his country, stating that the African Union (AU) is ready to send troops to Somalia to reinforce the 9,000 AU troops already there.
Uganda and Burundi are the only countries that have contributed troops to the AMISOM force in war-torn Somalia.
Groups and nations present at the summit included the following: African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Nations, European Commission, European Union Council Secretariat, Presidency of European Union (France), League of Arab States, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and others.