Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The latest Somali agreement

After three days of meetings - by day at the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by night in the sumptuous Sheraton Hotel - three Somali presidents (from Mogadishu, Puntland and Galmudug), one Somali prime minister (from Mogadishu), one speaker of one Somali parliament (Mogadishu) and the head of one Islamic militia (the Sufi one, Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jama'a) have agreed on the latest way forward for the tortuous transition process.

After much debate, argument, shouting and hugging, they have agreed that on August 20 a New Somali President will be elected by a New Federal Parliament (which itself will be sworn in on July 20). In other words, they say they will meet the deadline (just).

The 'international community' (basically the Americans, the British and the United Nations) have spent a lot of time in the lobby of The Sheraton, either waiting for the six Somali delegations to arrive or huddling with different groups of Somalis, trying to get them to agree.

The member of one of the Somali delegations told me that the 'international community' told them they had a choice - meet the August 20 deadline or have the money supply stopped.

Before anything can happen, a couple of 'committees' or 'boards' have to be agreed and set up....

May 26 - Advisory Board of the Traditional Leaders who are supposed to select the constituent assembly (which will adopt the new constitution, itself a source of huge disagreement) and select the New Federal Parliament.

June 1 - Technical Selection Committee made up of 27 Somalis, 2 members of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and 7 international observers.

Then the real business begins:

June 20 - Final list of delegates of National Constituent Assembly who will be given copies of the draft constitution.

July 2 - Opening ceremony of National Constituent Assembly.

July 15 - Technical Selection Committee to publish list of members of New Federal Parliament.

July 20 - Swearing in of New Federal Parliament.

August 4 - New Federal Parliament elects Speaker and Deputy Speakers.

August 20 - New Federal Parliament elects New Somali President (I wonder if the 'new' one will be the 'old' one Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed or a new one. At least 20 Somalis have told me they are running for President, and I have heard rumours about dozens of other potential candidates, including at least 2 women.)

I will end by quoting Point 13 of the Agreement:

The 6 Somali delegations have agreed "to emphasise that no delay or obstruction will be accepted by the Somali people or the International Community, and spoilers will be identified and named, and appropriate joint action by Somali and international stakeholders will be taken against them".

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