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EU: Presidency Ponders Special Envoy To War-Torn Somalia
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EU: Presidency Ponders Special Envoy To War-Torn Somalia

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By Andrew Beatty

Luxembourg , May 03, 2007 – The German presidency is considering appointing a special EU envoy to improve contacts with the government in Somalia and its enemies in a 16-year-old civil war.

EU member states have publicly expressed concern that Somalia’s internationally-backed Transitional Federal Government is refusing to engage politically with moderate members of its main rival, the Islamic Courts Union, which ruled Mogadishu between June and December 2006.

Privately they accuse the Somali government of trying to capitalize on the defeat of the Islamic Courts Union by Ethiopian troops in December last year.

Italy and Sweden have called for the appointment of an EU special representative to increase pressure on the transitional government to improve contacts with moderate members of the Islamic Courts Union and leaders from Somalia’s 25-plus clans and sub-clans.

According to diplomats, Germany is now examining whether appointing an envoy would improve the EU’s ability to stop the fighting that resumed in February in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Meeting in Luxembourg on 23 April, EU foreign ministers urged the transitional government to "reach out to all parts of Somali society in launching an inclusive political process." The ministers also said "particular attention should be given to the need for a broad-based administration in Mogadishu".

But key political figures from the Horn of Africa have called the EU’s strategy into question.

Abdillahi Mohamed Dualeh, the foreign minister of the self-declared state of Somaliland, said that attempts by the EU to build peace were bound to fail because of the unwillingness of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to reconcile the country’s many ethnic groups.

"Abdillahi Yusuf is a failure," he said referring to the president of the internationally backed transitional government. "He is a tribalist, a hardcore tribalist. He has concentrated power on his own clan, even sub-clan."

EU diplomats in Brussels admitted that Yusuf had often appointed members of his Darod clan to key positions in the interim government, particularly members of the Majterteen sub-clan, but they said there was still hope of reconciliation.

Dualeh also urged the EU to help deal with the estimated 300,000 Somalis who have fled Mogadishu since September because of shelling.

"We have a geopolitical situation which is very, very critical," said Dualeh, "currently there is an exodus from Mogadishu and the south. They are going to Kenya, they are going to Ethiopia and a large number are coming to Somaliland."

He estimated that up to 3,500 people a week are arriving in Somaliland, which occupies around 140,000 square kilometers of north-western Somalia, but is not recognized by the international community. It has been self-governing since 1991, with fully functioning institutions and a national currency

"We try to keep a close eye on the individuals because we do not want unwanted people to come in, particularly terrorists. It really is a very, very serious concern," said Dualeh.

SOURCE: European Voice


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