Warlords consent to provisional council


Somali accord should ease way for UN peacekeepers


Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 29 March 1993


SOMALIA’S rival factions broke the deadlock which had threatened two weeks of peace talks and agreed yesterday to form a transitional administration, only hours after the United Nations voted to send the largest and most expensive peacekeeping force in its history to Somalia.

At UN-sponsored peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, 15 factions agreed that a 78-member Transitional National Council (TNC) would be given a two-year mandate to operate as a central administration responsible for social, economic and humanitarian affairs.

Agreement was almost reached on Friday, but four of the factions allied to the Mogadishu warlord General Mohamed Farah Aideed’s Somali National Alliance (SNA) objected to unspecified details in the final draft.

This coincided with a unanimous UN Security Council agreement to a 28,000-strong military force to take control of security from the 24,880 American-led troops who have been in Somalia since December 9, Unosom 2 will take over on May through a phased transfer.

While the TNC is expected to dilute the male-dominated militarism of the past two years by the inclusion of at least 18 women, one from each of the 18 regions, the agreement is a blow to Somalis intent on seeing the power of the warlords reduced during the political rehabilitation of the country.

Mogadishu, which is split between clan-based armies loyal to Gen Aideed and All Mahdi Mohamed, will be given five seats and the 15 military factions will send one delegate each.

Gen Aideed and his allies, whose feud with All Mahdi cost 30,000 lives during four months of fighting which ended in March 1992 but has continued to destabilise the country, are expected to have 37 of the 74 seats, thanks to their control of much of southern Somalia.

His success in securing a dominant role on the TNC, despite the loathing many Somalis feel for the warlords whose conflict brought the famine which killed over 350,000 people, is likely to become an issue when the council finally sits.

Somali academics attending the Addis Ababa conference were outspoken in their criticism of the military leaders’ continued role, “In no way should the destiny of the Somali people remain any longer at the mercy of the ruthless warlords whose role has been so far anything but constructive,” they said in a statement on Saturday.

Speaking after the signing, Gen Aideed said: “Never again will Somalis suffer the tragedy of the recent past. Emerging from the darkness of catastrophe and war, Somalis hail the beginning of a new era of peace, of healing and rebuilding in which cooperation and trust will overcome hatred and suspicion.”

The agreement is a boost for the UN, which has been largely unable to adapt to the absence of a government from which it can derive authority to carry out humanitarian operations.

Two weeks ago the UN announced a £117 million aid package for Somalia covering all aspects of rehabilitation, from agricultural development to the establishment of a national police force.

Its whole operation is expected to cost up to £1 billion over the next 12 months. The resolution gives the troops a tougher mandate than any previous UN force, with the power to disarm combatants and use their weapons to maintain security.

The Addis Ababa agreement says that all factions will disarm within 90 days of its signing. With an estimated 2 million weapons in the country this is an ambitious target, particularly as the warlords have proved themselves incapable of ordering their clans to lay down their weapons.


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