By Phillip Barea
During the African Union summit this weekend, and as Chair of IGAD, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia led a special "mini-summit" regarding the continuing crisis situation in Somalia and the country´s future.
This special "mini-summit" ended on Monday morning after two days of closed door sessions of all the necessary actors involved. One topic of primary concern was the future of governance, peace, and stability in Somalia after an August deadline for the end of the Transitional Federal Government, and the start of a fully independent regular government.
Role for Somaliland
On Monday, Ezega.com was able to speak with the United Nations Secretary General´s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Augustin P. Mahiga of Tanzania. During the exchange he provided some concrete details as to what problems were discussed during the "mini-summit" and hints as to what can be expected in the future.
Ambassador Mahiga explained that many of the IGAD heads of state were very disappointed as to the slow pace of Somalia´s transition and the continued inability of the Transitional Federal Government to secure the necessary power and control.
Mahiga emphasized that the only way to remedy that situation was to effectively implement serious reforms, finalize the constitution making process, and establish the necessary political base.
He further noted that in order to finalize the transition process, the TFG needs to reach out to all actors and necessary parties. Mahiga clearly stated that: "This government [the TFG] has not delivered well in the areas of outreach and reconciliation".
Within that context he included Somaliland (a northern region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991) as a necessary part of the transition process for the establishment of peace and stability in Somalia. Mahiga further commented on Somaliland´s value by stating that: "Somaliland is a role model and good example for the rest of Somalis".
Position of the TFG
After the interview with Ambassador Mahiga, Ezega.com was then able to speak directly with H.E. Mohamed Abdillahi Omar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somalia. When asked about the possibility of reaching out to Somaliland and cooperating with each other, the Minister was optimistic and positive about the idea.
Regardless of past conflicts, disputes, and animosities; His Excellency recognized the need for cooperation in the face of common problems and the primary need to stabilize the region and care for the people. He clearly stated that: "We must cooperate between all the three components"; a statement that refers to Somaliland, Puntland, and South-Central Somalia.
To summarize his point, the Minister went on record and told Ezega.com that: "We are very keen from Mogadishu, in the TFG, to have both dialogue and practical cooperation".
The government of Somaliland has continually maintained its independence and disinterest in reunifying with the southern parts of Somalia. Therefore, it may seem to many observers as a difficult task to ask them to cooperate with the TFG in Mogadishu.
However, Ambassador Mahiga espoused the belief that if the leaders of Somaliland were confident that they had a trustworthy and earnest partner in Mogadishu, they would cooperate.
Phillip Barea is Addis Ababa based reporter for Ezega.com. He can be reached by sending email through this form.