Wednesday, September 7, 2011

AFRICA: SOMALIA: CAUTION AND HOPE- NEW AGREEMENT SIGNED

Agenzia Fides report - "After the signing of the new agreement between the Somali parties I always say 'good, with caution and hope'. This is because there have been at least 15 agreements which were not respected, therefore doubt arises spontaneously", says His Exc. Mgr. Giorgio Bertin, Bishop of Djibouti and Apostolic Administrator of Mogadishu to Fides, commenting on the signing of the so-called" road map "to get Somalia out of the long period of political transition. The agreement was signed yesterday, September 6, in Mogadishu, by the Somali President of the transition authority (the provisional government recognized by the international community), Sharif Sheick Ahmed, by the leaders of the self-autonomous region of Puntland (in the north-east ) and the pro-government militia Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, in the presence of representatives of the United Nations, African Union, Arab League and Igad (an organization that brings together the governments of the Horn of Africa). The road map provides a new Constitution, effective from 1 July 2012, and free elections immediately after, by August 20.
"Hope and prudence, therefore," stresses Mgr.Bertin to whom we point out that the agreement was signed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, while the previous ones were signed abroad, in Kenya or Djibouti. "This fact is certainly significant – Mgr. Bertin said - but it is true that Mogadishu is isolated from the rest of south-central Somalia, because the power of the Transitional Government is limited to the capital, and is supported by AMISOM (the military mission of the African Union). We have to wait and see whether it is possible to go beyond the symbolic aspect and if the Transitional Government will be able to extend its authority to the rest of the Country. That said, I always prefer to hope rather than say that this agreement is useless, also because there seems to be no other alternatives. Hope remains the only alternative", adds the Bishop of Djibouti.
South-central Somalia is the area hardest hit by food crisis, aggravated by the refusal of the Shabab militia (which control the area) to allow the intervention of foreign humanitarian organizations. "I do not know how long the Shabab policy will be able to continue, because doing so they risk incurring the hatred of the local population" underlines Mgr. Bertin. "These people who suffer hunger cannot receive outside help and are not allowed to go to Mogadishu or to neighboring Countries to try to escape hunger. I do not know to what extent the Shabab will be able to play with the lives of civilians, before the situation gets out of control", concludes Mgr. Bertin. (L.M.)

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