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Somalia political landscape heats up for upcoming Mogadishu meeting

06-03-2011 17:37 BJT

MOGADISHU, June 3 (Xinhua) -- As the much-anticipated and controversial so-called consultative meeting for Somalia's political rivals fast approaches, members of the two opposing camps gear up to consolidate their positions in the run up to the conference.

Somali government led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and members of the parliament headed by Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam finally agreed to a meeting next week to hammer out their differences over what to do about their ending mandate.

The Somali parliament voted almost unanimously to extend their tenure for another three years with the speaker suggesting that a vote be held for the presidency and for the post of the speaker, but the Somali government opposed that and proposed one year extension after which an election can be organized.

The leaders of the two sides, the president and the speaker, have been holding separate meetings with local officials and foreign leaders in order to persuade them of their stance.

The agenda of the meeting and who is expected to attend remains still not agreed upon by the sides who are strongly voicing opposing views as to the make-up and expected result from the assembly this month.

Haji Nur, a Somali political analyst in Mogadishu told Xinhua that "We don't see closing together of the sides' views regarding the way out of the stalemate over what to do about the ending of the mandate."

Nur said that the core of the issue was that the Somali government institutions have somehow failed to fulfil the transitional tasks expected before the end of its tenure in August.

The Somali analyst says it was "understandable" that the government was never up to finish its obligations considering the multitude of challenges, including fighting a determined and dangerous insurgency and running what is essentially a failed state.

Speaking to the media, speaker Sharif Hassan said that he believes the transitional federal institutions (TFIs) will have a joint delegation to the meeting while separate delegations from the autonomous regions will also attend as well as representatives from the pro-government Ahlu Sunnah Waljama (ASW) group.

The speaker's supporters maintain that the meeting be organized by the UN which they see as a neutral side to the differences over how to move beyond the August expiry of the TFI's mandate, but the Somali government which initially announced it will organize the meeting said it will facilitate the conference in Mogadishu.

The Somali president said during a meeting of the International Contact Group for Somalia in the Ugandan capital, Kampala that the country was too unstable for a vote. The government maintains that the Mogadishu conference that is due on June 12 and is expected to continue for a week should result in a framework that would allow for current TFI leadership to stay in power for another year.

There has been dissenting voice from some of the parties that are expected to take part in the assembly in Mogadishu. Leaders of the self-autonomous Somali state of Puntland strongly suggested that an election for the top leadership was a must if they were to continue supporting the federal government.

The ASW group has split over whether to attend the meeting altogether with a faction in Mogadishu saying they will boycott the talks while other senior leaders of the group preferred to wait and see as they have refrained from making public pronouncement prior to the meeting.

There has recently emerged in Mogadishu an alliance of MP's calling themselves Independents who suggested that compromise and dialogue between the opposing political forces in Somalia should be the way forward to a solution for the impasse before the meeting takes place.

No progress has been announced after a series of talks between the Somali president and the speaker of the parliament during the past several weeks.

For now as the date for the meeting draws ever closer, the sides seem to be locked into their stance with the agenda, aim and the makeup of the delegations to the meeting as well as who will run the talks not agreed upon.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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