South African Government Role in bringing Peace to Somalia and the creation of a Common Market by the SADC for the Southern African region

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 45

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 21 OF 4 SEPTEMBER 2006

MR JM SIBIYA (ANC) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

(1) Whether South Africa is playing any role in an attempt to bring about peace in Somalia; if not, why; if so, what (role), (b) other role players are there and (c) success has so far been scored;

(2) whether any progress has been made in the recent Southern African Development Community Foreign Ministers' meeting held in Maputo to discuss the creation of a common market in the Southern African region; if not, why not; if so, what progress?" C217E

REPLY:

(1) South Africa supports the efforts of the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in bringing about peace in Somalia. Therefore we play a role through our membership of the Peace and Security Council of the AU. The success that these role players have achieved thus far includes the setting up of the Transitional Federal Government and the continued functioning of this government. However, there remain many challenges and contentious issues in Somalia for example the AU and IGAD have made a proposition that peacekeepers be deployed to Somalia. However, the United Islamic Courts (UIC) who took control of Mogadishu in June this year oppose the deployment of any foreign force in Somalia.

(2) Yes. The 2006 SADC Council of Ministers meeting discussed the issue of the Common Market within the context of preparations for the SADC Customs Union. It will be recalled that the targets adopted by SADC include the Free Trade Area by 2008, customs union by 2010, common market in 2015 and monetary union by 2016. The Council endorsed the formation of a broad-based Task Force to spearhead the Customs Union preparations. The Task Force is made up of Ministers of Finance, Investment and Economic Development, Trade and Industry and the SADC Secretariat and is expected to submit a report to an Extraordinary Summit in 2007.

Also at the SADC Summit in Lesotho in August - integration was the subject of discussion. It was decided there to hold a special summit in October in order to deal with some of the urgent integration issues.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

  1. On 21 August 2006, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi appointed a new 31-member Cabinet after the dissolution of the over 100-member Cabinet on 07 August 2006. The dissolution of the old Cabinet by President Yusuf was as a result of the resignation from government by over 40 Ministers and Assistant Ministers. Reasons cited for the resignations by members of the Cabinet include Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi's earlier opposition to peace talks with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which took control of the capital, Mogadishu in June 2006 and President Yusuf's invitation of Ethiopian troops to Somalia.

  2. The majority of the members of the new Cabinet still occupy their old posts while the warlords who use to occupy Mogadishu, with the exception of Hussein Aideed have been excluded from the new government. The new Cabinet list which was finalised after extensive consultations with President Yusuf, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, the elders and various groups in Somalia is to be presented to the Somalia Parliament during the week of 21 - 25 August 2006.

  3. The UIC is extending control over central and southern Somalia. During the week of 7 - 11 August, the UIC took control of the town of Beletuein and on 13 August, the UIC forces took control of the Harardhere Port. In addition, the UIC is reported to have deployed its forces 60km south of the town of Gaalkayo, which borders on Puntland - President Yusuf's base. Forces from Puntland have been mobilised to counter the threat posed by the UIC.

  4. On 13 August, Prime Minister Ghedi called for a cease-fire and announced that he would send a delegation to the Sudan to participate in the second round of peace talks with the UIC scheduled for the 31st August 2006. However, the UIC has indicated that it would only participate in the talks if Ethiopia withdraws its troops from Somalia. Since 20 July 2006 Ethiopia has deployed its troops in Somalia at the invitation of President Yusuf. It is reported that Ethiopia has increased the number of its forces on the border with Somalia to 5 000 and that it might engage the UIC militarily.

  5. The intervention by the Ethiopians has created a rift between President Yusuf and the Speaker of the Somali Parliament, Mr Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan who contends that the decision to invite the Ethiopians was unilaterally taken by President Yusuf and not by the Somali Parliament. This intervention has also resulted in the defection of the Hawiye militia from President Yusuf's side to the UIC to fight against the foreign force. It should be noted that whenever a foreign force intervenes in Somalia, Somalis rally together against that foreign occupation and later fight each other.

  6. In addition, this intervention will have a negative impact on the conflict situation in Somalia, as the leader of the UIC, Mr Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has threatened to declare Jihad against Ethiopia, if the country refuses to withdraw its troops from Somalia. This, in turn will result in the intensification of the conflict and the reversal of all gains made in resolving the conflict in Somalia.

  7. There is a massive inflow of arms to Somalia from both Ethiopia and Eritrea despite the arms embargo. While Ethiopia has stated that its forces in Somalia have been deployed to protect its national interests, Eritrea has denied allegations of supporting the UIC or any involvement in Somalia.

  8. The UN has stated that if the situation in Somalia continues unabated the number of IDPs in Somalia could double up - resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis. Currently there are over 1.8 million people depended on humanitarian aid.

  9. With regard to the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Somalia there are divergent views. The African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have proposed the deployment of peacekeepers in Somalia, a move opposed by the Djibouti Government as they maintain that the Parties in Somalia have embarked on a process of dialogue. Within Somalia, the TFG favours the deployment of an African peacekeeping force to help establish its authority, while the UIC opposes the deployment of any foreign force in Somalia.



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