Ambassador Mahiga in Mahiga
The United Nations Special Envoy for Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga is mediating the ongoing rift between Somali President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Shariff Hassan Sheikh Aden at the luxurious resort of Muyonyo at the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
The face to face meeting between the two leaders representing Somalia’s TFG began immediately after the end of the International Contact Group (ICG) meeting in Kampala on Friday.
At the two day ICG meeting, the two leaders presented opposing proposals on how to end the transitional period which comes to close in August.
President Sheikh Shariff Sheikh Ahmed has proposed a one year extension for the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) without an election while the parliament speaker has pushed for an election in “order to save guard the illegitimacy of the TFG.”
The President argued that his government, with the help of the AMISOM peacekeeping mission, has made tremendous advances against al-Shabaab militants over the last few months and that there was no need to overlook their achievement. He said they needed a term extension so that they continue with the “gains made so far.”
Each of the two leaders sought the support of the international community for his position and both were asked not to leave the resort until they reached an agreement.
One of Somali Members of Parliament (MP) accompanying the speaker confirmed to terror free somalia on Sunday evening that, Ambassador Mahiga has been meeting with speaker and President in the last two days and that “the meeting is still going on.”
TFG President Sharif
The MP who spoke on condition of anonymity told terror free somalia that the “face to face meeting may drag on up tomorrow (Monday)” adding that there has no been any progress since they first met.
“The president’s side is insisting that they should be given a one year extension while we are pushing for an election,” said the MP. “Everything else has been agreed upon apart from the election issue.”
“We may leave for Nairobi if no agreement is reached by Monday morning,” the MP warned.
The power struggle between the president and the speaker has dragged on since February when discussions about what to do with TFG when its term ends first emerged.
During his opening remarks, at the beginning of the ICG meeting last week, Ambassador Mahiga lamented that the bickering over elections and term extension has paralyzed government operations.
“Since February, there has not been any progress as leaders fought over the extension issue” he said, and added that the TFG has failed in its mandate of reaching out to the opposing factions and increasing the level of reconciliation within Somalis.
The talks currently being mediated by the UN special envoy follow a draft communiqué which was supposed to be ratified on Friday, but was not. Although Ambassador Mahiga said the copies of the draft were sent to specific capitals for ratification, a source within the delegates hinted at a possible deadlock.
A copy of the draft communiqué seen by terror free somalia called on the TFG “to institute rapid preparation and consensus on elections for the positions of the president and the speaker.” It added that there should be “a mechanism to bring to an end the current rift that has created divisions among the TFG institutions.”
It also threatened of a possible “sanctions and reduced aid” by International Community, “if the feuding sides would not come up with a united position” during the upcoming reconciliation meeting planned for Mogadishu mid this month.
Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden
Uganda Threatens Pull Out
Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, whose country hosted the ICG talks, strongly advocated for a one year extension saying that Somalis need peace now more than an election.
“If I ask you: what do Somalis need most today? Is it an election which will be conducted by people who are not elected themselves or is it peace?” he asked.
Museveni, also threatened to pull out his troops from the AMISOM mission “if the current TFG process collapses” and warned that the consequences would be grave.
“We went into Somalia, because there was an agreement that formed the basis for the TFG,” he said. “If that agreement collapses, then we would have no business staying in a situation like that, we better pull out.”
His statement has elicited strong reaction from a section of Somali parliamentarians who accused Museveni of meddling in the affairs of Somali government.
Hared Ali Hassan, the spokesperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential elections, said, that it was in bad faith for the Ugandan leader to favor one side of the TFG.
“It’s through parliamentary legislation that we allowed AMISOM peacekeepers into our country,” said Mr. Hassan. “We can not have regional leaders threatening us over our right to decide what we want to do with the future of our country.”
The current stalemate over the future of the TFG has created uncertainty, and has worried the International Community worried. Representatives from over 30 countries at the meeting expressed their concern and called on the TFG leaders to end the rift.