“Somalia is a more peaceful country now.” [Archives:1998/35/Law & Diplomacy]
Mr. Hussain Mohammed Fareh Aideed is the Joint President of the Cairo Agreement and the Joint President of the High Council administrating Mogadishu. He has recently visited to hold talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and inform of the latest development of the Somali issue. Yemen is one of seven Arab countries that are closely associated with trying to resolve the dispute in Somalia.
Mohammed Bin Sallam of Yemen Times talked to Mr. Aideed and filed the following interview. Excerpts:
Q: What have you discussed with President Saleh?
A: We have discussed what has been achieved regarding the administration of Mogadishu. This is an extension of the historical Declaration of Sanaa, which was the key factor to resolving the Somali crisis. Following seven months of extensive efforts, a special administration for Mogadishu has been established.
Q: How was this administration formed?
A: The establishment of a transitional administration of the Benadir region (Mogadishu, the capital city) is as per the following steps:
– Supreme Council composed of 50 members and headed by 2 co-chairmen (Hussain Mohammed Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohammed) and vice co-chairmen;
– governorate headed by a governor and 9 deputy governors;
– police force of 6,000 men headed by commander and 5 deputy commanders;
– office of attorney general headed by the Attorney General;
– independent judiciary including Court of Appeal and regional courts that functions according to the Islamic Sharia;
– Mogadishu Port Authority consisting of 2 branches (administration and customers) each headed by a manager and 2 deputies;
– Mogadishu International Airport authority consisting of 2 branches (Administration and Civil Aviation) each headed by a manger and 2 deputies;
– a commander and 2 deputies for the correction department and prison guards;
– a commander and 2 deputies for the Municipality Forces for Benadir region.
A lot of the credit goes to President Saleh and the people of Yemen who supported us immensely
Another purpose of my visit is to ask Yemen to use its good offices with other Arab and Muslim countries to help Somalia rebuild itself and make a fresh start.
Q: What stage has the Somali national reconciliation reached?
A: A conference of national reconciliation will be held in Baidoa in January, 1999, and in which the signatory parties to the Cairo Agreement will take part. It is hoped that the provisions of this agreement will be implemented. There will be a presidential council consisting of 13 members, a prime minister with wide-ranging powers, a parliamentary speaker and an independent judiciary.
It was agreed when the Somali government was formed in Baidoa that all Somali social groups must be represented.
We sincerely hope that Yemen continues to support us, both morally and financially.
Q: What about the Somali refugees in Yemen? Will they be able to go back to their homeland?
A: There are more than 500,000 displaced Somalis in neighboring countries. I hope by this visit to prepare for those refugees to be repatriated.
Several agricultural and animal-breeding and trade projects are planned to help the returnees settle back in their country.
Q: What is your vision regarding the future of Somalia?
A: I aim to establish a democratic system through which Somalis can attain their full rights and live in peace and dignity. The Somali people must live in peace within their own boundaries have a fruitful coexistence with the neighboring countries.
As far as the economy is concerned, we aim to embrace a free-market approach. We hope that Yemeni and other investors will come to Somalia. Ours is a country with a lot of potential. There are, for example, more than 45 million heads of livestock. There are two rivers and fertile lands. In addition to all that, Somalia is rich with mineral and sea resources.
Q: Are you planning to visit other countries besides Yemen?
A: I’ll be visiting other neighboring countries such as Ethiopia to tell them of what has been achieved so far in my country. Somalia is now healthier and more peaceful and ready to occupy its rightful place among other nations.
Q: Could you tell us more about the agreement reached by the various Somali factions?
A: The Somali process of national reconciliation started in 1992 following the ousting of former President Mohammed Siad Barri. Somalia’s troubles were really started by foreign intervention. With a lot of patience, endurance and heartache, the Somali people were able to overcome that difficult period of their life.
The desire for peace, Islam, Arabism and patriotic feelings have brought the various warring factions together. People suffered enough. It took two national conferences (Ethiopia 1993, Kenya 1994, Mogadishu 1995, Cairo 1997 and Sanaa 1997) to reach a final agreement.
There was also a general conference in Mogadishu, the sessions of which were held from 11 November, 1994 to 15 June, 1995. My late father Mohammed Fareh Aideed was elected at that conference. Afterwards I met with Mr. Ali Mahdi and Mr. Othman Hassan in Nairobi. Other meetings were held in Sanaa and Cairo.
Q: How important is the Cairo Declaration on Somalia in resolving the crisis?
A: The Cairo Declaration on Somalia brought together two differing parties – ours and the Sodare Group. The Sanaa Agreement is very important in that it has allowed the formation of a joint administration of the capital and the Benadir governorate. It is crucial that reconciliation takes place in the capital first, because its peace and stability reflects on that of the country as a whole.
The outcomes of the Sanaa Agreement and others were finally all formulated within the Cairo agreement. The Baidoa conference will finally help establish a national government and rebuild the sovereignty of the Somali state.
Q: Which countries have helped Somalia achieve peace?
A: We are greatly indebted to Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Italy and China.
Q: What other future plans do you have for the reconstruction of Somalia?
A: There are plans already formulated to reestablish public services, the health care system, schools, roads and other infrastructure. Somalia is a rich country with a huge potential. We call on all countries of the world to help us bring our country back to the international fold and rebuild a prosperous Somalia.
Q: Could you briefly tell us about the main social groups in Somalia? Are there any other factions which are still at war?
A: There are four main social groups in Somalia which will occupy three seats each in the presidential council. One seat will be for Benadir. All Somali factions have signed the Cairo Agreement. There are some figures who refused to sign. They are mostly supported by foreign powers.
Q: What about the so-called Somali Land? Is it within agreement?
A: Somalia is united now. The social group that comes from Somali Land has an equal number of seats at the presidential council as the other three social groups.
Q: What is the period of time allocated to each joint president?
A: There is only one president for the presidential council, which consists of 13 members. He will be the president for the whole three-year transitional period. The president can be elected by a majority vote.
Q: Will there be parliamentary elections?
A: At the beginning the government will function during the first six months. Through this government, a parliament consisting of 189 seats will be elected.
Q: Will the ruling authority be mainly central, or will there be some autonomous regions?
A: There will be a central authority established at the Baidoa conference, and regional authorities will also be adopted.
The governors of other governorates will be chosen through local autonomous elections.
Q: How much do you estimate the damages incurred during the civil war?
A: The war created numerous problems and hardships. The so-called international peace-keeping force also did a lot of economic harm to the country. Ports, airports, factories, and other installations and infrastructure elements were destroyed. UNISOM paid $3.5 billion to occupy and destroy Somalia. That was the biggest catastrophe during the 7 years of war.
Q: Any last comment?
A: Our struggle for 7 years was to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Somalia and to establish a democratic state of governance by laws, to safeguard human rights and the rights of the individual Somali citizen. We are committed to ensure peace and security for Somalia and for our neighboring countries.
We call upon the international community (IGAD, LAD, OAU OIC, NAM, EU, and the UN) firstly to support this historical achievement for the establishment of the Transitional Administration of the Benadir region (Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia). And secondly we call upon them to support the upcoming “National Reconciliation Conference of Baidoa, which will establish a democratically elected central Government for Somalia on the basis of the Cairo declaration on Somalia on December 22nd 1997.