5 August 2012

Somalia: President Sharif Walks Out of Signatories' Meeting in Nairobi

Photo: Stuart Price/UN
President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's transitional government is approaching the end of its mandate later this month after an eight-year interim period marred by infighting, minimal political progress and rampant corruption.

Nairobi — Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed reportedly stormed out of a meeting signatories were having in Nairobi on Sunday, Garowe Online reports.

Somali signatories of prior agreements such as the Roadmap, met with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in Nairobi on Saturday, to discuss the political process and the end of the transitional government.

After the meeting on Saturday, signatories remained in Nairobi to discuss possible amendments to the political process in the remaining two weeks.

The meeting being hosted in Nariobi's Hotel Panari, began with controversy, as a letter signed by President Sharif appointed Abdiqadir Ma'alin Nuur as TFG President's defense adviser. President Sharif has previously supported Mr. Nuur as Ahlu Sunna representative and signatory.

However, Ahlu Sunna leader Mr. Mohamed Mohamud Aw Libah has disputed Mr. Nuur's credibility as Ahlu Sunna representative and signatory as he is "an employee of President Sharif". Moreover, inside sources tell Garowe Online that President Sharif was irked by a closed door meeting between Puntland President Abdirahman Farole and TFG Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, as the two leaders' meeting concluded thirty minutes late and delayed the opening of today's meeting at 10am in Panari Hotel.

However, sources say, President Sharif was disgruntled prior to the controversial letter, when signatories discussed moving the presidential elections ahead of the parliamentary elections.

This suggestion was supported by UN Ambassador to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, who last week expressed his fear of coercion and incentives for politicians looking for parliamentary seats.

The suggestion was not welcomed by TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who is running for reelection this August.

It is unclear if other signatories ratified the move to advance the presidential elections and delay parliamentary selections.

The campaigning of Somali presidential candidates relies solely on the number of supporters the candidate has in parliament. If the new policy signatories were discussing is ratified, then Somalia's presidential elections will take a new turn.

Ambassador Mahiga followed President Sharif to try to bring the TFG President back to the discussion table, but President Sharif who according to sources was headed to the airport, told Amb. Mahiga, that he would support the outcomes of the meeting.

With less than two weeks left in the transitional government, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday urged leaders to continue their efforts to end the transition on schedule.

Signatories minus TFG President Sharif will continue their one day talks as the international community keeps a close eye on Somalia in the final weeks of its political process.

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