- The "parliament of Somalia", which was founded by Somali warlords in Kenya last month after two years of negotiating, is soon to elect an all-Somali President and return to Mogadishu to take power. As mighty warlords keep on fighting in south Somalia and the question of Somaliland remains disputed, the new rulers may however face the same fate as the Transitional National Government that was formed in Djibouti in 2000.
Next week, the 275 Somali parliamentarians still gathered outside the Kenyan capital are expected to elect a President; Somalia's first central leader since the 1991 fall of Dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. As soon as the presidential appointment is done with, the Kenyan hosts may finally open their hotels to paying guests after the two-year Somali peace conference. The new political leadership of Somalia is to return to Mogadishu.
The presidential vote however will not be easy as there are some 60 Somali presidential candidates. Most of them have a trouble past as warlords, fraction leaders and human rights violators.
The candidates include Hussein Farah Aideed, son of warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed, who leads a 15,000 strong militia controlling central and southern parts of Mogadishu. Mr Aideed holds great responsibility for the transitional government's failure to take control of the country.
Another prominent candidate with a big chance of being elected is Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, the current of leader of the autonomous Puntland region in north-east Somalia. Colonel Yusuf, a long-lasting foe of Mr Aideed, is accused of several political murders, fierce guerrilla warfare and of using large amount to buy parliamentary votes for him while Puntland residents are suffering from drought and hunger.
Whoever is elected Somali President will have to trust in Mr Aideed, who is in military control of the parts of Mogadishu where the government is to reside. If Mr Aideed is elected President, his government rapidly may fall into the same trap as the transitional government formed in 2000; it only controlled the small part of Mogadishu where it was installed.
Warfare in Somalia will not automatically end with a new government uniting the country's main warlords. More than 20 warlords are still operating private armies that are frequently involved in clashes with other warlords that take part in the peace process. In addition, several warlords did not take part in the 22 August inauguration of the new Somali parliament.
The main warlord outside the Kenyan peace process is Mohammed Hersi, commonly known as General Morgan. This week, he launched a major offensive against southern Somalia's major port, Kismayo, the country's third largest city. Only today, General Morgan is reported to have given up the attack after the Jubba Valley Alliance - a regional armed group in control of Kismayo - had gained the upper hand.
The upcoming Somali government will in any case face large pockets of warlord-held territories within Somalia. The fragile alliance of clan leaders and other armed groups now united in the Somali parliament further has no guarantee of sticking together for a long time. It is not probable that warlords will let government take military control over their areas.
Finally, there remains the problem of the breakaway republic of Somaliland; a former British colony that unilaterally broke the 1960 union with former Italian Somalia after the 1991 fall of President Barre. Somaliland, which yet has to be recognised by any country, refused to participate in the Kenya talks as its does not consider itself party to the conflict. The peace talks' hosts thus appointed their own "representative" for what they call "north-west Somalia".
The future Somali government, therefore, is to represent also Somaliland internationally, to the great frustration of Somalilanders. Somaliland in international forums now officially becomes an internal Somali issue. A military conflict between Mogadishu and Hargeisa cannot be ruled out if the new Somali rulers aim at subduing Somaliland. There is still a long way to peace in Somalia.
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