October 29, 2007

Prime Minister Ghedi Resigns: Fuel or sand to the flame?

Somalia has been in a state of political disarray since the 1991 civil war. In 2004, more than 20 warlords agreed to meet in Nairobi to discuss the possibility of a federalist government in the hopes of uniting the country and putting an end to the 13 years of bloodshed and famine. Leaders agreed on a transitional power sharing government between the two largest clans, the Darod and the Hawiye. Since Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had declared the northern region of Puntland an autonomous area in 1998, it was agreed that Yusuf would become president and he would select a prime minister from the Hawiye clan, Ali Mohammed Gheti. This arrangement would be congruent with the power sharing deal needed for the transitional government to be solidified. Ethiopia showed their support of the new government by offering their support for quelling the insurgencies that were plaguing the country.

While the interim government was established, Mogadishu, the capital was still under the control of various warlords, thus creating an atmosphere of chaos and lawlessness. That was until June of 2006 when The Union of Islamic courts, a judicial system funded by the powerful business community, has created a fighting force to promote Islamic law over the region in an attempt to bring order to Mogadishu. While the imposition of Islamic law meant amputations and other human rights violations, those living in UIC control areas enjoyed some degree of peace. Just one month after the takeover of Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops are spotted entering the country under the request of the transition government to gain control of the city. In response to this, the UIC leadership declares a Holy War against the Ethiopian troops. Fighting between Ethiopian and Somali troops against Islamist rebels have continued to carry on, however the ferocity of the fighting has hit an all time high in recent weeks.

Despite the efforts of Ghedi and Yusuf, it has become apparent that they are unable to reach a cease fire between the two factions and have reached a political deadlock. Under pressure from President Yusuf and the parliament, Prime Minster Ghedi has agreed to step down. President Yusuf accepted his resignation. “With respect to the situation the country is undergoing, the humanitarian catastrophe facing us, and the longstanding deadlock among us, I welcome the resignation” (New York Times).

The real question that faces Somalia now is whether Ghedi’s resignation will inflame the conflict or help the government quell it? With Ghedi’s absence, the government won’t be bogged down by competing clan interests and might become more effective. In addition to this, the Hawiye have expressed that Ghedi was not their frist choice for the Prime ministership, giving them the new opportunity of voting for someone that would better represent their interests. However, this could also mean that the Hawiye will become more united against Yusuf’s transitional government and create more chaos. The Ethiopians are of course a state with vested interest in the conflict, they share a large border with Somalia and the conflict may very well spill over and create conflicts in their own borders. The contagiousness of the conflict is not the only concern of the Ethiopians, the influx of refugees have put a strain on their infrastructure and threatened the stability of their border control.

1 comment:

MB said...

I really enjoyed your post; it was rather informative because I had no idea about this issue going on in Somalia. I think the way in which you pose the situation and approach it are great which allows for you to convey the message of the post rather well. I like how the links take you to various places and the way in which you did them is rather well because I had some questions as to who these people were but the links allowed me to clear my questions and move forward in the post. I think however in the last paragraph where you mention "The contagiousness of the conflict is not the only concern of the Ethiopians, the influx of refugees have put a strain on their infrastructure and threatened the stability of their border control." This here is rather confusing because you bring up a new point, how the war is a humanitarian crisis as well. This should be further explained and examined if you are going to bring it up, if not, which I believe would have been fine in the post; there would not be any non-discussed issues being brought to light in the final paragraph which allow for confusion. Overall I think this is a good post on a fairly unique and interesting topic. Keep up the good work! MB

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