.....(Hal-ku-dhigyo Dhaxal-gal Noqday) = ..... President, C/raxmaan A. Cali: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland dib ayay ula soo Noqotay Qaran-nimadeedii sidaa awgeed, waa dal xor ah oo gooni u taagan maanta (18/05/1991) laga bilaabo''...>>>>> President, Maxamad I.Cigaal:''Jiritaanka Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland'' Waa mid waafaqsan xeerasha u-degsan Caalamka! Sidaa darteed, waa Qaran xaq u leh in Aduunku aqoonsado''...>>>>> President, Daahir R. Kaahin: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland waa dal diimuqraadi ah oo caalamka ka sugaya Ictiraafkiisa''...>>>>> President, Axmed M. Siilaanyo: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland, Boqol sano haday ku qaadanayso helista Ictiraafkeedu way Sugaysaa! Mar dambena la midoobi mayso Somalia-Italia''.....[***** Ha Jirto J.Somaliland Oo Ha Joogto Waligeed *****].....

Monday, December 19, 2011

East-Africa: Big Rush to Cash in On Somalia, Protect Uganda, Save Sudan

''An African diplomat who was at a recent Djibouti meeting with Somali leaders -- including those from the "republics" of Somaliland and Puntland -- told The East African that...''

World and regional powers are now in a big rush to simultaneously tackle three big and intractable East African problems -- the Somalia war, the crisis in eastern DR Congo, and the risk of South Sudan imploding. For the first time in a very long, diplomats appear to be optimistic that lasting peace in the Greater East Africa region may be closer than it has been expected. This has set off a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at boosting peacekeeping efforts and paying for the reconstruction in some of the trouble spots.

In the past one week, China, which has traditionally chosen to concentrate on its economic interests in Africa and had stayed away from Somalia, announced that Beijing was keen to work with other parties "to play a constructive role in pushing forward a resolution to the Somali humanitarian crisis."

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council sat to consider a proposal by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to expand the Amisom force strength. If Mr Ki-Moon gets his wish, Amisom could grow from the approved force of 12,000 to 20,000, the standard required of a UN peacekeeping mission.

On the same day, the World Bank Group working closely with Norway, Turkey, and the United Kingdom; the African Union; the European Union; the United Nations and the Corporate Council on Africa hosted a donor conference that will eventually fund the start-up nation of South Sudan. Since 2005, this donor group has funded South Sudan to the tune of $540 million.

Now billions of dollars are needed urgently to pull Africa's newest nation from the brink of crisis. The African Development Bank has also been in discussions about funding the reconstruction of South Sudan. A similar effort is also underway for the reconstruction of Somalia.

In the same week, the European Union offered $1.2 million that will be used to help efforts by Uganda's military and American special forces hunt for the fugitive warlord Joseph Kony.

On the diplomatic front, two weeks ago, Mr Ki-Moon and the President of the UN General Assembly, Qatar's Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser made a brave visit to the Somalia capital Mogadishu, and pressed the flesh with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) leaders.

Ki-Moon and Al Nasser were the most high profile international diplomats to visit Somalia in over 20 years and their stop was seen as an early Christmas present for the fledgling TFG, and a boost for the African Union peacekeeping effort AMISOM.

Gaining ground

In recent months, AMISOM has pushed the Al Shabaab out of all the 16 districts of Mogadishu, unifying the capital under the authority of one government for the first time since 1991.

However, there were concerns that AMISOM's gains could be threatened by Uganda increasing attention to old enemies -- the regrouping of the anti-Kampala Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and other once-defeated Uganda rebel groups in eastern DR Congo.

Uganda and Burundi are the only two countries that have contributed troops to AMISOM so far, with Uganda providing the most. Diplomatic sources told The East- African that they were "picking up signals that Uganda was about to send a large force into eastern DR Congo." According to our sources, Uganda was "weeks, if not days away," from reopening a front in DR Congo. Not only were there concerns that that would distract it from Somalia, but some diplomats are also worried that a messy campaign inside DR Congo would rob Kampala of the moral authority to remain in a peacekeeping mission.

Other sources told The EastAfrican that the flare up of fighting between (north) Sudan and South Sudan, and the eruption of communal violence in parts of the South, threw up the worst nightmare many governments had had about South Sudan Independence -- a new state that fails on arrival.

One of the most lethal instruments that Sudan has to destabilise the South is the LRA, which for years was a proxy force for Khartoum, which it used to punish Uganda for its support for the SPLA.

The hawks in the Uganda military and intelligence still maintain that the LRA is being kept alive by the Omar Al Bashir regime. It was probably no surprise then, that two weeks ago Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni became the first regional leader to warn Khartoum to "back off" South Sudan.

With these developments, the fluid situation in eastern DR Congo and the rumbles at the Ugandan border; the upsurge of violence in Sudan; and peace in Somalia, became joined by one thread.

In October US President Barack Obama sent 100 Special Forces to Uganda to help it combat the LRA in eastern DR Congo and the Central Africa Republic, the wide swathe in which the highly mobile and murderous Kony army operates.

Media reports indicate that the US Special Forces and the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) are setting up a base camp near the confluence of the South Sudan/DRC/Uganda border to pursue Kony. A security analyst in Kampala told The East African that; "If any deep links are established between the LRA and Khartoum, then we should not be surprised if the US role grew to address 'Sudan's subversive' role too."

In recent weeks, Khartoum has become an irritant. Last month, Navi Pillay, the UN's High Commissioner for human rights, called for an "independent, thorough and credible investigation" into allegations that Sudan's air force had bombed a refugee camp in South Sudan.

"If indeed it is established that an international crime or serious human rights violation has been committed, then those responsible should be brought to justice," Pillay said.

For its part, the US pressed the UN Security Council to adopt a statement condemning Sudan's government for the attack.

Meanwhile, in an early sign that the US-Uganda anti-LRA campaign is quickly growing to draw in other players, over a week ago the European Union offered to finance the construction of a new base for the UPDF to be used to launch operations against the LRA.

The $1.2 million base will act as the co-ordination centre for ongoing joint anti-LRA operations by a coalition of forces from Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan and the US, which has deployed its Special Forces to the hunt.

"We have now been joined by the EU and they offered us $1.2 million to help us ensure a quick and successful ending to this operation," Uganda's Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told The East African.

The controversial election a few days in DR Congo, in which President Laurent Kabila was re-elected with a large majority, but which his opponents have rejected as a stolen victory, will have helped to focus minds about the dangers of allowing armed militias to lurk in eastern Congo. (READ: Uganda plays down risks of DR Congo meltdown)

The election itself was marred by violence, which has continued since Kabila was announced winner.

The danger of DR Congo slipping back into the chaos of the late 90s and early 2000 are real. With that, the message seems to be going out that any criminal militia or militant group with crossborder links, can cause wide-ranging problems in the region.Against this background, the stabilisation of Somalia would be a treasured trophy, and give credibility to the international effort mounted to pacify the country as a model for dealing with similar extreme trouble spots.

While the facts suggest that it's prudent to be cautious about peace in the region, particularly in Somalia, the notable change is that this time more and more voices are talking up the prospects of peace in Somalia. An African diplomat who was at a recent Djibouti meeting with Somali leaders -- including those from the "republics" of Somaliland and Puntland -- told The East African that; "While the divergence of views is acknowledged by all, what was more astounding to me was the general feeling that this time it might be different, that the Somali nation could well be salvaged."

The AU, shamed and swatted aside contemptuously in Ivory Coast, and the Libya war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, the country's dictator for 42-years who was eventually killed in the frenzy of his capture by Libyan revolutionaries, also seems to be smelling an opportunity to mend its image in Somalia.

It quickly acted to invite Kenya to be part of AMISOM, after it sent its army across the border into Somalia to pursue Al Shabaab militants. The AU found a little joy when the Kenya Parliament voted to participate in AMISOM.

If the number of countries and diplomatic missions opening shop in Mogadishu, or pitching into the stabilisation effort, are anything to go by, then the cautious optimism about the long-suffering country might turn out to be justified.

When Ki-Moon was in Mogadishu, he announced the UN was to reopen its mission there after a long absence. Italy followed suit, saying it too was going back to Mogadishu.Turkey set up shop a few months ago, and is active in helping rebuild things like hospitals.

Then China indicated it wanted in. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin gave the signal at a daily press briefing while commenting on Ki-Moon's visit to Somalia.

"We have paid attention to the situation in Somalia," Liu said, adding that China hopes Somalia will put an end to internal disorder as soon as possible and realise peaceful development."

He said China supports the positive role of the international community, including the UN, in promoting the Somali peace process and easing the country's current crisis.

China's view is important because it's completing a vast $200 million office complex in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a "gift to the African people" that will serve as the AU's new headquarters.

In addition, China also offered $500 million to Peace & Security of the AU for the next three years. China's re-engagement with Somalia could, therefore, comes with new funding for the cash-strapped AMISOM operation, which is set to grow bigger now that Kenya is set to be part of it.

Should progress in Somalia continue, it can be expected that a scramble for a place at the table will break out, and lead countries in AMISOM that have hostile insurgents on their flanks, could benefit from the international push to calm the wider Great Lakes region

By Charles Onyango-Obbo (Allafrica)

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