UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – Somalian Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi, representing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), ended his two-day visit, June 27-28, to the United Nations with a press briefing. “The reason why I am here in New York is to brief the Security Council of the UN regarding the situation in Somalia. Somalia is at a critical crossroads, in terms of security, reconciliation, humanitarian aid delivery and governance,” the prime minister told the press during his opening remarks.

“Somalian people have suffered a lot during the last 15 to 16 years from the civil strife in the country,” Mr. Ghedi added. He said there have been several recent attempts with the support of the international community to have lasting peace and stability in Somalia without any tangible result. The TFG is the 14th attempt to set up central rule in Somalia since the 1991 fall of the military dictatorship.

However, analysts say that it is the approach on the ground that is interfering with the peace process in the Horn of Africa.


“The current western-backed Ethiopian approach to Somalia will lead to a mountain of civilian deaths and a litany of abuses. Washington, London and Brussels are in a blind alley in Somalia. They should rethink a policy which is encouraging serious abuses, and come up with one which prioritizes the protection of civilians,” writes Tom Porteous, Human Rights Watch, London.

Ghanim Alnajjar, the independent UN expert on human rights in Somalia, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 12 that the situation was much worse than when he reported in September 2006, before the February U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion.

The UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) in a report to the Security Council on June 28 stated that, “escalating violence in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has forced more than 3,500 people to flee in recent weeks.” But, the report also stated that while 3,500 fled, another 33,000 returned in the same period. “They leave their neighborhood to move to another part of the city because of persistent bomb explosions close to their homes, especially in the north of the city,” the UNHCR report states.

The UNHCR report notes that only 123,000 of the estimated 401,000 civilians who fled the heavy fighting between the TFG and the Islamic Courts Union between February and May have returned.

The Transitional Federal Government is doing its best with no resources or limited resources to put into place an atmosphere for peace, Mr. Ghedi said. “With support from the international community, the African Union peace mission known as AMISOM would be able to deploy; and that will pave the way for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces,” Mr. Ghedi noted. “That is a very crucial event for the sake of the Somali people,”

The prime minister then told reporters that clan fighting was over in Somalia. “What is happening in Somalia is based on terrorism. We have tried to explain to the international community that the turmoil in Somalia is not local; terrorists are operating in Somalia,” Mr. Ghedi insisted. He said there is a need for a collective focus by all regional and international bodies to address the issue of terrorism in Somalia.

According to Reuters, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that his government is keeping 4,000 troops in Somalia due to terrorist activity, which he said was backed by Eritrea; and has forced him to reverse his military strategy.

“Recent developments in Somalia amply demonstrate the degree to which national and regional security conditions are intertwined in the Horn of Africa. Long-term security for Somalia will not be possible without addressing the regional aspects of the crisis,” stated UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his report on Somalia that was distributed on June 25 (S/2007/381).

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe has been telling reporters that the international community is willing to help Somalia in all areas as long as there is progress on the ground. He called on the TFG to reach out to their opponents for the sake of peace and reconciliation. “The National Reconciliation Conference is critical to the political development in Somalia,” Mr. Pascoe said.

The prime minister told reporters that there had been two attempts at holding the reconciliation conference, and that it would finally happen in Mogadishu on July 15.

Mr. Ban states that for the congress to be successful it must be transparent and all inclusive; “including clan elders, religious leaders, the business community, women’s groups and other representatives of civil society. The congress should address critical political and security issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire and an agreed framework for disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating Somalia’s militias, consistent with the National Security and Stabilization Plan, the constitutional process and preparation for national elections.

“We will devote ourselves and make any sacrifice for the peace of Somalia, but we need help from the international community,” Mr. Ghedi stressed.

Reporters asked the prime minister could he assure the safety of those who would participate in the congress, and he answered, “Yes.”

But, the prime minister continued to insist that the international community must honor its commitments of logistical and financial support so that a climate of peace could be maintained in the capital. “This is what we have come to discuss with the Security Council. He said that international donors had pledged $32 million for the reconciliation congress; and to date they have received the first installment of eight million, with the European Commission and the U.S. leading the way. “They say once we start the congress, they will give more money,” the prime minister said.

When reporters asked him to respond to the UN’s position that there must be peace before his government gets any more help, he said, “Somalia needs peace, and if we could do it ourselves I would not have a need to be here.”