News and Views on Africa from Africa
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January 15 – February 14, 2003


Part I – Sudan

1. Chronology

2. What the agreements say

3. Iraq war might affect Sudan peace talks: observers

Part II- Northern Uganda

1. Briefs

2. Religious leaders call for support for peace process to end LRA war

Part III- Horn of Africa

1. Briefs

2. Book Review: A country without people in a world without conscience: Will Somalia be born again? (translation)

3. Interview: Major General John F. Sattler

Part 1 – Sudan

1. Chronology

January 15: Foreign ministers from nine Arab countries meeting in Khartoum opposed any partition of Sudan as part of a peace settlement with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and called on the United States to play a neutral role in the process.

15: The Sudan government failed to send a delegation to the resumption of peace talks with the SPLA in Nairobi, Kenya, saying it did not wish to discuss three disputed areas in central Sudan: Abyei; Nuba Mountains; and Southern Blue Nile. Both north and south wish to include these areas within their borders.

16: SPLA leader John Garang urged the international community to pressure Khartoum to return quickly to the peace talks being held in Nairobi. "From our side the talks are on," he said. "Our delegation is here, we will wait until the government delegation comes."

16: The Sudan government announced that it would send a delegation to Kenya for peace talks, set to begin on Jan. 22. Sudan's chief negotiator Ghazi Salah Eddin Attabani said the decision to send the delegation for the talks came after an invitation from Kenyan negotiator Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo. Attabani issued the statement after meeting with U.S. peace envoy John Danforth, who earlier held talks with President Omar el-Bashir.

16: The United States wants peace talks between the Sudan government and the SPLA to move forward within three months, said U.S. special envoy John Danforth. U.S. President George W. Bush is required under a U.S. law to report in three months to Congress on the progress of the talks between Khartoum and the SPLA, he said.

17: A Sudan government delegation arrived in Nairobi for discussions with rebels and European experts on three disputed areas – Abyei, Southern Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains – in central Sudan, two days after failing to attend the resumption of peace negotiations.

17: In a meeting with Sudanese Minister of Energy Dr Awad Ahmad al-Jaz, Tunkir Kila, an undersecretary in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Trade, said that many Turkish companies are interested in investing in oil exploration and production in Sudan.

17: During its January 12-15 tour of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sudan, representatives of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) held meetings in the two countries to explore ways to boost business and set up joint ventures. The FMM also invited West Asian companies to participate in international trade events in Malaysia.

17: U.S. envoy to Sudan John Danforth called for increased contact between Sudan President Omar el-Bashir and SPLA leader John Garang. "The peace process would benefit a lot, as it goes along, if there were a lot of communication between the two leaders," he said.

17: The United States may find it a "challenge" to drop Sudan from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism despite Khartoum's progress on counterterrorism, a senior U.S. official said. "The assessment will be: have they made enough progress ... for us to be able, as the U.S. government, to give the absolute, comprehensive assurance that this is a comprehensive and new position," the official added. The U.S. said last year it believed "international terrorist groups," including al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, continued to use Sudan as a safe haven.

19: The Sudan government approved the $1.2-billion sale of Talisman Energy’s 25 percent interest in the Greater Nile Oil Project (GNOP) to ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), a subsidiary of India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

19: A team of French and Swiss archeologists has found Granite statues and stelas of pharaohs who ruled from northern Sudan some 2,600 years ago, including the last “black pharaohs.” The artifacts represented kings Taharqa and Tanutamon, the last of the "black pharaohs," as well as monarchs Senkamanisken and Aspelta, who all lived about 600 years BC.

19: An Iraqi envoy held talks in Sudan as part of Baghdad's diplomatic efforts to rally Arab support against possible U.S. military strikes. The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) quoted Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf as saying after his meetings: "Iraq, Sudan and sisterly Arab countries will do their utmost to prevent aggression on Iraq."

20: The Sudan government and the SPLA have agreed to allow Lifeline Sudan to continue its operations in the southern part of the country. The two sides also stressed the need to allow the delivery of relief aid to the needy in all parts of the country.

21: Peace talks are due to resume in Kenya on January 22 after the two sides agreed that the status of the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei areas would be dealt with separately at a later stage in the peace process. Both sides claim the areas.

21: The army accused the SPLA of attacking government-held areas in southern Sudan, on the eve of the resumption of peace talks between both sides. "An aborted attempt was led by the rebel forces against our troop positions in the Faradis areas of Western Nuer (Unity State)," army spokesman General Mohammed Beshir Suleiman said in a statement.

22: The peace talks have been rescheduled to begin on January 23, rather than the 22, with the division of wealth and power remaining the key obstacles to ending Africa's longest-running civil war.

22: Sudan Vice President Prof Moses Machar met a delegation from Ethiopia to discuss implementation of the electricity interconnection project.

23: Peace talks re-started in Nairobi. The latest round of negotiations is scheduled to focus on the presidency, the composition of the legislature, relations between the central government and the government of southern Sudan, where the national capital should be, elections, and participation of southerners in the central government. The U.S. welcomed the resumption of talks, but was concerned by recent government attacks in the Western Upper Nile region. Also, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Humanitarian Envoy to Sudan, Tom Eric Vraalsen, said he hoped the talks would continue in a spirit of goodwill.

23: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir has requested that the peace talks between his government and the SPLA also deal with the fight against HIV/AIDS. "We are asking all the negotiators and intermediaries to give an important place to the question of AIDS, for if not there will be no one left to share the power and wealth" of Sudan, he said.

25: Algerian Minister of State for Justice Mohamed Charfi and his Sudanese counterpart Ali Muhammad Uthman Yasin signed a framework agreement on legal and judicial cooperation between Algeria and Sudan. It included cooperation on a number of legal issues, the most important of which was "exchange of information on individuals' criminal records and the handing over of criminals.”

26: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said he was encouraged by the latest peace talks to end the civil war, which he said were going ahead in a “serious spirit.”

27: More than 10,000 Sudanese marched through Khartoum to protest a threatened US-led invasion of Iraq, shouting support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and denouncing "Arabs of the dollar.”

27: There was heavy fighting between Sudanese government forces and the SPLA in Western Upper Nile (Wahdah State) south of the garrison town of Leer. Humanitarian sources said that over the last four weeks, fighting in Wun (Wahdah State) had been concentrated in Mayom County and around the oil fields south of Bentiu. In Mayom county there appeared to be a deliberate attempt to attack relief sites, thereby cutting off local people from humanitarian assistance, said one source.

27: The SPLA asked Kenyan mediators to suspend for one day the third round of peace talks with the Khartoum government, which they accused of violating a ceasefire. The SPLA said that, since December 31, government forces had conducted large-scale land and air attacks on SPLA bases and civilian targets in Western Upper Nile, burning down several villages in the process and retaking five major towns under SPLM/A control.

27: Sudan and Chad signed a security protocol under which a joint security force would be set up to maintain security along the common borderline. They also signed a memorandum of understanding for bilateral political coordination.

27: The United States said it was "deeply concerned" by reports that the Sudanese government is violating a ceasefire with attacks in the southern part of the country. If true, the reports would bring into doubt Khartoum's commitment to peace talks with southern rebels now underway in Kenya, the State Department said. It announced that it was sending a U.S. "civilian protection monitoring team" (CPMT) to investigate reports of the attack.

28: SPLM/A officials met with mediators of the Sudan peace talks being held in Nairobi to discuss how to resolve a dispute over Khartoum's alleged violation of a ceasefire by capturing the town of Leer. The government denied the SPLM/A claim that it had captured Leer in the Western Upper Nile state, saying the town has been under government control since 1996.

28: The European Union head office said it would give 71 million euro (US$77 million) in humanitarian assistance to Congo, Sudan and the western African nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. The second aid package of 20 million euro (US$22 million) will fund relief aid in Sudan. As a response to disease and war-induced famine the EU said it would "continue covering the whole (Sudanese) territory according to needs," providing urgent food and water aid. It would also pay for transport of aid to war zones.

28: Khartoum warned Washington that it was jeopardizing its role as a neutral arbiter in the Sudanese peace process after it expressed concern over reported ceasefire violations by government troops. "US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher should not have made this statement which could impair the US neutrality," Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail told reporters.

29: Talks between the Sudan government and SPLM/A resumed after it was decided that allegations of truce violations that threatened to derail negotiations be addressed separately.

29: American military experts traveled to southern Sudan to investigate cease-fire violations. Retired Brigadier General Herbert Lloyd and former senator John Danforth led a team of American military experts to the Leer area at the request of Kenyan peace mediator Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo,

30: About 200 Sudanese were rounded up in a security crackdown in Egypt over the last three weeks, but most were released after they proved their legal status in Egypt. Most of those rounded up had either permanent or temporary protection status with the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees but did not have the papers with them.

30: Talisman Energy Inc.'s $758-million sale of its stake in Sudan's major oil project to India's national oil company was delayed a second time, raising questions over whether the deal will be completed as planned. Talisman said the project's other partners had yet to approve the sale to India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp., meaning the expected closing day of January 31 would not be met.

31: Amnesty International welcomed growing openness in Sudan, but said it remained worried about alleged human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention and forced recruitment of child soldiers. Amnesty officials said this during its first official mission allowed by Sudan in 13 years.

31: The New Delhi-based Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said it hopes to finalize in February the purchase of a 25-percent stake in Sudan's controversial but lucrative oil project from Canada's Talisman Energy Inc.

February 1: International observers in Sudan's central Nuba Mountains called for the region's ceasefire to be transformed into a full-fledged peace deal between the government and SPLA. "Instead of continuing as an accord for cessation of military operations, the ceasefire agreement should be transformed into a peace agreement," said the chief of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), Brigadier General Jean Wilhelmsen.

1: SPLA spokesman George Garang said more than 1,000 government troops and allied militia - supported by tanks and helicopter gunships - attacked Akobo in Eastern Upper Nile on January 31, killing 20 civilians and violating a cease-fire agreement. Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

1: The United Arab Emirates and Sudan signed a free trade agreement to gradually remove custom barriers between them to increase bilateral trade.

2: Two Sudan pro-government militias said they have seized the southern town of Akobo from the SPLA in renewed fighting as peace talks continued in Kenya. South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) commander Gathouth Gathoth said his militia was not bound by the truce between the government and SPLA, although Paulino Matip, a major general in Sudan’s army, heads the SSDF. The other militia, South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) is an independent militia group headed by Michael Wal.

3: Sudan's Oil Minister Awad Al-Jaz said that the Sudanese oil ministry is holding talks with companies from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and South Africa over Block 8 in the southeast, Block 9 near the capital of Khartoum and Block 15 on the Red Sea coast. Sudan hopes to seal deals with foreign companies for drilling rights to three exploration blocks by end-March, helping the war-torn African country boost its oil exports of between 270,000 and 300,000 barrels a day, he said.

3: Sudanese Minister of Interior Abdrahim Hussein said authorities in Sudan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to coordinate efforts to fight terrorism, forgery, illegal arms trade, and drug dealing.

4: The Sudan government officials and the SPLM/A formally agreed to a set of measures aimed at preventing further violations of the ceasefire pact they signed last year. These measures include an obligation by both parties to inform a "communications committee" created under the ceasefire agreement of all troop movements in advance. They also agreed to allow a ceasefire verification and monitoring team access to their areas of control, for each side to return to the other any territory that had been captured since the MOU was signed last October, and a promise by the Sudan government to suspend construction of a road through the oil fields of southern Sudan until a final and comprehensive peace agreement has been signed. The U.S. has said it welcomed these and other measure to rescue the ceasefire.

5: Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb left for Sudan to co-chair meetings of a joint Jordanian-Sudanese committee that will discuss ways of boosting political and economic ties. The two countries were expected to sign a series of bilateral agreements during the one-day visit.

5: The Sudan government and the SPLM/A have committed themselves to "effect the immediate voluntary return" to their homes of civilian populations displaced within Western Upper Nile, from WUN to neighbouring Bahr el Ghazal, and all other civilians who had been displaced since the signing of the October agreement on a cessation of hostilities.

5: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and International Development Secretary Clare Short issued a statement saying they “warmly welcome” progress made in the Sudan peace talks and urged the parties to implement the addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cessation of Hostilities. They also said they would support the work of the new Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT) and would provide development and humanitarian assistance to Sudan and help with debt-reduction.

5: An African Union delegation led by South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma held talks with Sudanese officials in Khartoum following tensions between Khartoum and Asmara. Relations between Sudan and Eritrea have been strained since Khartoum accused Asmara of taking part in an October rebel offensive in eastern Sudan, a charge denied by Eritrea.

6: The Sudan government and the SPLM/A said that they have made “significant progress” on deciding how they would share wealth, agreeing to establish a petroleum commission to work out how to divide the oil wealth that has fueled the conflict. They also agreed on the main principles of how to share power between the two sides. However, the final details on wealth and power sharing – such as who will have which cabinet posts, and what the national assembly will look like – will be worked out when the two sides resume talks on March 1. Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the Kenyan mediator at the talks, predicted that peace would come to Sudan “before the end of the year.”

6: Jordan and Sudan signed a free trade zone agreement likely to bolster trade volumes between the two countries and liberalize trade two years ahead of the total liberalization of trade exchange among the entire Arab world under the pan-Arab free trade agreement. The agreements and protocols signed in Khartoum cover the fields of vocational training and labour, health, tourism, cultural exchange, youth and sports, scientific research, housing, construction, agriculture, veterinary medicine, quarries, and pharmaceuticals.

9: During the weeklong Sudanese Investment and Cultural Forum in Dubai, the Sudanese Consulate General announced that it would set up its office in Dubai on land donated by the Dubai government, and Sudatel registered with the UAE stock exchange.

9: A U.S. monitoring team said recent fighting between the Sudan government and the SPLA has displaced thousands of southern Sudanese civilians from villages such as Lara, Tam, Nhialdou, Leel and those south of Mankien and Mayo in the Western Upper Nile region. It said that the Sudanese army and its allied militias were responsible for "most" of the suffering inflicted on civilians during fighting last month with the SPLA.

10: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have all been scheduled for sharp cuts in U.S. development aid while southern Sudanese rebels stand to receive a huge increase in such assistance, according to budget proposals unveiled by U.S. President George W. Bush. Sudan might receive nearly $50 million in U.S. development aid next year, which would be five times the amount it got last year. Almost all that money is intended for projects in rebel-held areas of the country and is seen as a way to encourage the end of the war, analysts said.

11: Approximately 27,000 Eritreans have reapplied for refugee status in Sudan more than a month after the 31 December deadline that ended refugee status for hundreds of thousands of Eritreans, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The applications - one per family - represent nearly 100,000 people living mainly in refugee camps and urban centres in Sudan.

12: Following a report from U.S. monitors investigating clashes in the Western Upper Nile region, the United States has condemned "unconscionable attacks and abuses" against civilians in the Western Upper Nile region by the Sudan government, which it says has violated the ceasefire signed last year with rebels in the south. But the government now seems to be adhering to the ceasefire, it said.

12: Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned that Eritrea could try to sabotage oil deliveries by truck from Sudan to his country. "We do not exclude the possibility that Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki is attempting, directly or indirectly, to undermine good relations between Sudan and Ethiopia through acts of sabotage," he told the Cairo publication Al-Hayat.

13: The Malaysian company Kota Minerals & Chemicals Sdn Bhd (KMC), which provides specialized services to the oil and gas industry, is optimistic about its maiden venture in Sudan. Chief executive officer Shah Hakim Zain said KMC's penetration into Sudan was part of the company's expansion into foreign markets.

14: Mr. Amara Essy, interim chairman of the African Union (AU), welcomed the joint statement issued on February 4, 2003 by the Sudan government and the SPLM/A at the end of their just concluded third round of negotiations in Nairobi.

2. What the agreements say

The agreements reached in early February between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) have been such a breakthrough that Kenyan Special Envoy of Sudan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo told journalists in Nairobi February 6 that "this was possibly the end of the war." He and analysts from all stripes hailed the agreements as revolutionary and predicted that peace would come to Sudan by the end of the year at the latest. The talks are set to resume March 1 in the posh Nairobi suburb called Karen, and the details are yet to be worked out. These are the points that the two parties have generally and specifically agreed upon so far.

Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Cessation of Hostilities between the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), February 4:

* both sides will inform the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Communications Committee in advance of all troop movements, including rotations, and the supply and re-supply of non-combat items

* both sides will provide the MOU Communications Committee with the identity and location of their own forces and all allied forces and affiliated militia

* a Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT) – consisting of representatives from the two sides, personnel and aircraft from the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT), representatives from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union, and observers from the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, and other nations – will monitor the situation and investigate and report on violations. The VMT will have free access to areas where complaints have been filed, and will notify the MOU Communications Committee of the results of all its missions

* any locations that any party have taken over in violation of the original MOU, signed by both sides on October 17, 2002, will be immediately returned to the party that had control over those areas when the MOU was signed.

Joint Communiqué Between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army Regarding Strengthening the MOU on the Cessation of Hostilities, February 6:

* both sides agree to take “all necessary steps” to facilitate the immediate voluntary return of the civilian population of Western Upper Nile (WUN) to their home areas and villages, as well as those who were displaced to Bahr-el-Ghazal, and other civilians who were displaced. The parties ask IGAD’s observer nations and the international community to help return the displaced to their homes

* both sides appeal to the international community to provide humanitarian relief to drought-stricken areas of Bahr-el-Ghazal and other places

* the MOU Communications Committee shall enable the VMT to investigate allegations of MOU violations. Both sides pledge to abide by the committee’s decisions.

Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Points of Agreement on Power Sharing and Wealth Sharing Between the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), February 6:

* both sides agreed to “many elements” of a text outlining structures of government called, “Final Draft Protocol on Power Sharing within the Framework of a Broad-Based Government of National Unity between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)”

* both sides agreed completely on the protocol’s: general principles; the constitutional review process, including the procedure to draft and adopt an interim constitution; the establishment of international and national institutions; and population census before elections

* the parties made “significant progress” with agreeing no the general principles and framework of resource sharing between the different levels of government as outlined in the document titled “Aspects of the Wealth Sharing Protocol”

* the parties set up a Petroleum Commission that, among other things, would oversee revenues coming from the oil fields of southern Sudan, and have agreed on banking and monetary issues (including a banking system based on interest)

* both sides agreed not to re-open for debate issues that had been agreed up in these texts.

3. Iraq war might affect Sudan peace talks: observers

By Cathy Majtenyi

As the U.S. heats up its campaign to wage war against Iraq, church observers are watching to see how the rhetoric – and a possible war – would affect the delicate peace talks being held between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Negotiations between the two sides began in the Kenyan town of Machakos in the middle of last year. Among their accomplishments include a protocol that commits the Sudan government to confining Sharia (Islamic law) to the north, rather than imposing it on the population of the south, which is largely Christian and followers of traditional African religions.

The agreement also grants south Sudan a six-year period of administrative autonomy, after which the population can decide in a referendum whether to stay in Sudan or secede.

The two sides also agreed, in principle, to stop fighting during the duration of the talks.

At the latest round of talks, which ended February 6 and are set to resume in March, the two sides agreed on how and when to draft a constitution, the establishment of a Petroleum Commission, a banking system, and “significant but not comprehensive agreement” on government structures.

In the next round, they are expected to work out in greater detail issues of how to share power and wealth, particularly that arising from the oil-rich south.

However, a military strike against Iraq by the U.S. might affect Muslim-Christian relations within Sudan and efforts by the U.S. to put pressure on the Sudan government to negotiate in good faith, according to requirements of the Sudan Peace Act, say observers.

“Sudan owes its allegiance to the Arab community; they define Sudan as an ‘Arab’ country,” said a source close to the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Regional Conference (SCBRC), who asked not to be named.

Whether or not Muslim-Christian relations will be affected in the country “depends on how the Arabic world reacts” to the US’s campaign and whether the media and religious and political leaders depict the strike against Iraq as a Christian-Muslim war.

He decried the U.S. campaign against Iraq, calling a pre-emptive strike “immoral. Even the threat of war is a tragedy,” he said.

“On the part of the Arab world, I would not be surprised if they were supporting Khartoum,” said Bishop Caesar Mazzalari of Rumbek. He said that, for its part, “the U.S. has been highly disappointed in its dealings with Sudan,” particularly because of violations of the cease-fire.

Prof. Cirino Hiteng, a lecturer of international relations and politics at the United States International University – Africa Campus in Nairobi, had said in a recent briefing to the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) that the war could galvanize the Arab world against all Christian communities, including those in south Sudan.

However, this could be advantageous to southern Sudan, he said, by pitting Khartoum directly against the Americans.

Hiteng criticized the peace talks for excluding the input of churches, non-government groups, and other civil society representatives. “Real Christian support is lacking in the peace process and we need it to lobby for peace,” he told the AACC briefing. He said that Islamic organizations “even supply military hardware to government.”

Certainly, anti-American sentiment in Khartoum is rising. On January 27, more than 10,000 Sudanese marched through Khartoum protesting the U.S.’s threatened strike against Iraq.

They chanted, "down, down USA, we will not be ruled by the CIA," as well as "shame upon you Arabs of the dollar," and "we will not be humiliated and will not obey the Americans," reported AFP.

According to the AFP report, "The enemies have rallied against Iraq because it has raised the banner of Islam," Iraq's ambassador to Sudan, Ahmed Tareq Abdallah, told the demonstrators. The U.S. and other countries "have allied to break the bone of the Arab nation and to deprive it of its faith and values," the ambassador said, adding: "The moment of the jihad has now arrived."

Part II- Northern Uganda

1. Briefs

January 23: Uganda's defense minister Amama Mbabazi announced that he plans to meet with his Sudanese counterpart Bakri Hassan Salih. Mbabazi was quoted as saying the war against terrorism still continues as "they (rebels) tried to reestablish themselves in southern Sudan."

23: Ugandan forces operating in southern Sudan this week overran two Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) defense lines southwest of Lubang-Tek inside Sudan, where the rebel force was constructing what was suspected to be an airfield, Defense Minister Amama Mbabazi said in Kampala. One LRA fighter was killed in the struggle.

29: Ugandan Defense Minister Amama Mbabazi said army commander Maj. Gen. James Kazini is discussing with Sudanese army officers how the two armies can work together to eradicate Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels based in southern Sudan.

31: The Ugandan army has dug up an arms cache of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) along the Kit River valley in southern Sudan and recovered an assortment of weapons. Paddy Ankunda, the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) spokesman based in northern Uganda, said that among the weapons were 15 anti-personnel mines, 30 anti-personnel fuses, five rocket propeller grenades, and six bombs. He also said that January 30, the UPDF rescued 26 abductees from different LRA rebel groups in northern Kitgum and Gulu districts.

February 4: Julius Onen, Acting Permanent Secretary in Uganda’s Foreign Ministry, said that 49 ex-Ugandan rebels are being held in Khartoum under unclear circumstances. The 49 are part of the Uganda National Rescue Front II (UNRF II) and the Uganda National Freedom Movement rebels who responded to the Ugandan government's Amnesty Declaration and the peace deal sealed last year.

7: Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has instructed Chief of Military Intelligence Col. Noble Mayombo to hold talks with the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels in order to stop their combatants from entering Uganda with guns. He said the SPLA are using their guns to threaten people and loot inside Yumbe district.

2. Religious leaders call for support for peace process to end LRA war

By Linda Frommer

"The overwhelming cry from the civil society has been and continues to be 'Stop the Wear Now and Save the Life and Future of our Children," said former Anglican Bishop Ochola Jan. 28, as he called upon the international community to support efforts to bring an end to the 17-year war in northern Uganda between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni.

The bishop was speaking on behalf of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, which has been trying to launch a peace process to end the war that has devastated the three northern Ugandan districts of Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader.

"The only means to bring about a meaningful and long-lasting peace in Uganda is through a negotiated settlement between the various fighting groups in a manner that ensures there are no victors or vanquished, but also wisely resolves the root causes for potential conflicts,” he said.

Nearly one year ago, the Ugandan Popular Defense Forces (UPDF), under Museveni's command, launched Operation Iron Fist against the LRA and sent UPDF troops into southern Sudan where the LRA had hid out after it lost its support from the government of Sudan in 1999. Army Commander James Kazini vowed that the LRA would be finished by the new year.

However, Bishop Ochola charged, Operation Iron Fist has been a "total failure" and has only led to: "The death of many hundreds of more innocent people, more abductions of hundreds more innocent children, massive displacement of the people in the north, more destruction of civilian vehicles in ambushes on the roads, more cases of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and the closure of the roads in Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader."

In June 2002, nearly half a million Acholi people lived in camps for the internally displaced, where they have languished since the government herded people into the camps in late 1996. Today, six months later, 800,000 to one million people are in the camps, and hundreds of thousands of others have fled the districts. Famine stalks the region, not because of drought but because the war raging in the region has brought agricultural production to a total halt in the last year and no one is left in the countryside.

"This is the worst humanitarian crisis since the fighting began in northern Uganda," said Ken Noah Davies, World Food Program (WFP) Director in Uganda, in a WFP report released Feb. 1. "We had expected things to improve in 2002, but instead the numbers of displaced has continued to increase, and the displaced people have lost both of the last two harvests due to insecurity. People are living like animals. They don't have a life. They simply exist. If we stop providing food, they will die."

Recent reports from the district of Pader give the parameters of the catastrophe. According to the local government report, the LRA infiltrated Pader beginning in June, and the security situation drastically changed for the worse. "Vehicles have been ambushed, looted, and burned. Defenseless people [were] brutally massacred… A total of 10,462 huts have been burned." More than 200,000 people – 44,424 households – are displaced in 20 camps and trading centers.

The heaviest blows are delivered to the district's terrorized children. Since 1995, the LRA has abducted children in northern Uganda as a way of recruitment. During the course of the war, thousands of children have been kidnapped and terrorized into killing their own family members and members of the Acholi community or being killed themselves. Throughout its Operation Iron Fist, the UPDF has made no attempt to differentiate between the LRA commanders and the LRA's ranks of child soldiers.

As the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative noted in a Jan. 28 report on events in January, "It is significant that ever since the beginning of Operation Iron Fist, not a single one of the top LRA commanders (Kony, Ottii, Nyeko, Rasca, Tabuley, Kolo, Odiambo, Kwoyelo, Banya, Acellam, Opuk, or Opiro) has been killed. On the 4th of January, a helicopter gunship bombed a group of rebels in Pella in Kitgum district. The newspapers reported that 19 rebels had been killed. Eyewitnesses who visited the scene the day after told us that they saw a lot of corpses of children."

As the UPDF's Operation Iron Fist kills the child ranks of the LRA, the LRA has dramatically escalated its abductions to replenish its forces. In Pader, this has resulted in nearly 4,000 abductions since June – more children captured than during the course of the entire war. Another 3,000 children have been sent out of the district for safekeeping. All schools are closed.

"The fact is," said Bishop Ochola, "that over 90 percent of the LRA are the abducted children, torn away from their families by force and thereby not willing participants in the war. The abducted children, like young plants, are very vulnerable to having their humanity manipulated or twisted and eventually destroyed by incredible trauma that they go through. The future of these children is completely shattered and ruined by their life experience. The ongoing Operation Iron Fist has already led to the deaths of hundreds of these children."

For these reasons, Bishop Ochola said that the ARPLI sees no justification in calling the war against the LRA a war against terrorism. The LRA is on the list of terrorist organizations issued last year by the U.S. State Department. "The terrorists targeted by the United States and their allies, voluntarily chose to become so, whereas the children abducted by the LRA from northern Uganda are mere victims of this conflict."

Given the failure of Operation Iron Fist and the terrible suffering of the Acholi people, especially their children, the bishop has called upon the international community to intervene to bring about a peace process that will end the war. He said that this was "even more feasible and foreseeable" because LRA commander Joseph Kony has publicly stated he is seeking face-to-face negotiations to end the war and the Museveni government has also appointed a negotiating team. On Feb. 4, Roman Catholic Archbishop John Baptist Odama reported that the LRA has claimed to have chosen its negotiating team. Since the possibility for negotiations exists, said Ochola, "we appeal to the international community for their support and cooperation to help push the process forward to its peaceful conclusion."

Since its launching, the international community has backed Operation Iron Fist. Funds for military assistance to Uganda have been forthcoming from Britain and the United States, with Washington channeling $3 million to the Ugandan military in December 2002.

With the exception of the recent WFP report, the escalation of the war in northern Uganda has been met with a deafening silence. The press on the ground is now feeding this. According to the ARPL’s report, on Oct. 12, 2002, the LRA massacred 90 civilians at their villages in Amyel in Pader district, and "not a single word was published in the Ugandan press." Abductions of children are also going unreported. "We have reliable reports that in areas of Kitgum Matidi and Mucwini sub-counties, children are abducted almost on a daily basis, 30 or 40 at a time. Usually these facts are not reported in the press. For instance, on the 30th of December 2002, 30 children were abducted from Madi-Opei. We sent the report to the main newspapers, but nothing was published."

Part III- Horn of Africa

1. Briefs

January 16: Authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, said they would crack down on people trying to go to Yemen by boat. Colonel Abdirazaq Afgadud, the Bari region (Bosaso area) police chief, said the decision comes after a boat carrying 115 people sank off the coastline of Puntland earlier this month, with most of the people feared dead. "Only 30 survived," he said.

20: The Kenya government appointed retired Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat to replace Elijah Mwangale as Special Envoy to Somalia, to head the peace talks in Eldoret, Kenya. "He was under increasing pressure in recent weeks following complaints by some of the Somali delegates, who last week met the new Kenyan foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka, and accused Mwangale of being dictatorial," said an analyst.

21: Ever since the outbreak of fighting in the southwestern town of Baidoa last July, humanitarian agencies have been unable to access the town, said humanitarian sources. The fighting that engulfed the town - which had enjoyed relative peace and stability since it was captured by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army in 1998 - was caused by a split within the senior ranks of the RRA, which controls much of the Bay and Bakol regions of southwestern Somalia.

22: Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka and the newly appointed special envoy to Somalia, Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, met Somali delegates gathered in the Kenyan town of Eldoret for peace talks. The appointment of retired Ambassador Kiplagat to replace Elijah Mwangale was officially announced last week.

22: Mogadishu-based faction leader Husayn Aydid has called on the Somali delegates meeting in the Kenyan town of Eldoret not to set up a presidential system of government. Aydid, who is the current chairman of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC) - a grouping of southern factions opposed to the Transitional National Government (TNG) - said there was so much mistrust between the various Somali groups that "it would be next to impossible to settle on one individual" as president.

23: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, citing progress in peace talks on Somalia and Sudan, has extended the appointment of his special adviser for the Horn of Africa, Muhammad Sahnoun, until the end of the year.

23: The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA) has condemned as "draconian" draft press regulations newly released by the government. The organization says the law – which could come into force later this year – exposes journalists to heavy fines and imprisonment “under the guise of a code of ethics”. “Members of the Ethiopia free press have undergone great sufferings under the repressive press law and civil and criminal laws that have been in force since the last 40 years,” the EFJA said.

23: Ethiopia’s federal police have beaten up clergymen and tortured religious demonstrators, said The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO). The assaults occurred after clashes between police and demonstrators at Addis Ababa's Lideta Mariam Orthodox church on December 26. The clashes were sparked by a dispute between the Church of Lideta Mariam and the Addis Ababa Diocese. The community has been resisting attempts by the office of the Patriarch to appoint a church administrator.

24: Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that a crucial boundary ruling last year rejected many of Ethiopia’s claims to territory after its war with Eritrea. Both countries claimed to have been awarded the symbolic village of Badme where their border war flared up in 1998, after a ruling issued by an international Boundary Commission in April 2002. "The report [by the Boundary Commission] generally rejected Ethiopia's claims including (without mentioning it by name) the claim to the village of Badme where the war had started," HRW said in its 2003 World Report.

24: The Ethiopian government is muzzling educators and students with a policy of harsh repression, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its report, "Lessons in Repression: Violations of Academic Freedom in Ethiopia.” This policy included extra judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and widespread denials of freedom of opinion and association, it said. "Ethiopia's security forces have targeted students and teachers, because they are among the most politically active elements of Ethiopian society," Saman Zia-Zarifi, the academic freedom director for HRW, is quoted as saying. "Ethiopia is on the brink of another famine, and it needs educated people to lead the country out of this disaster."

24: Dozens of people have been killed amid spiraling ethic clashes between rival groups in Ethiopia's western Gambella Region, on the border with Sudan. Although the area has traditionally been witness to tribal violence, the ferocity and scale of attacks are now causing serious concern. Just two months ago, at least 40 people were killed in a refugee camp. Now the United Nations Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (EUE) is urging action to try and break the ever-growing cycle of violence. Much of the fighting has been between two ethic groups – the Nuer who live close to the Ethio-Sudan border and are pastoralists - and the Anyuaa, or Anuak, tribe.

27: The Ethiopian government has hit back at claims that it is trying to push through draconian press laws aimed at restricting the country’s fledgling media. The government said in a strongly worded statement that the private press often abuses its position and the new draft law will create “strong, responsible” media. The comments come after widespread criticism among international journalists' organizations and the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association, who say that the new law – which could come into force later this year – would restrict freedom of expression and prevent journalists from doing their work.

27: Somali leaders attending the peace talks in the Kenyan town of Eldoret have proposed that extra delegates be allocated to represent the self-declared republic of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia. Col Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad, the president of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, said that the leaders' committee had agreed to propose to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development technical committee "to give Somaliland 50 extra delegates and five members in the leaders' committee.

28: A fistfight erupted at the Somali peace conference in Eldoret, Kenya, when civil society delegates were barred from a meeting of the leaders' committee. An argument ensued between Id Badal, a civil society member, and Mawlid Ma'ane, the leader of the SAMO [Somali African Muki Organisation] faction, and this "led to a fight between the two.” Later in the day, a group of men followed a prominent member of the civil society, Prof Muhammad Abdi Ghandi, to Eldoret town and "beat him up pretty badly." said the source. Ghandi was taken to the hospital but was later released. Police arrested Mawlid Ma'ane and four of his supporters.

29: The authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, have lifted the ban on BBC reporters Ahmad Muhammad Kismayo and Muhammad Khalif Gir, according to Abdishakur Mire Adan, Puntland’s deputy information minister. The two were banned from reporting from the region last year after being accused by the authorities of "not being objective in their reporting of events in the region.

29: Prof Muhammad Abdi 'Gandhi,’ who is attending the Eldoret peace talks, said he would withdraw charges against faction leader Mawlid Ma'ane, whose supporters kicked Abdi and attacked him with a lead pipe, if certain conditions are met. Firstly, they had to apologize for the attack; secondly, they had to promise that such an incident would never happen again; thirdly, "they have to acknowledge that civil society groups have the independent right to participate in the conference without consent from the factions,” said Abdi.

29: A radical re-shaping of the civil service within Ethiopia will ensure transparency and speed up democracy, said a statement released by the Ministry of Information. It urged the continuation of the much-welcomed civil service reform programme and said that some government departments were failing to meet the required standards of the scheme, launched last September by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

29: The U.S. has written off almost US $30 million in debt for drought-stricken Ethiopia, which is strapped with a massive US $6 billion debt burden. U.S. ambassador Aurelia Brazeal signed the deal, which wipes out all the debt owed to the U.S. up to March 2004, including arrears and servicing.

30: The UN’s Force Commander in Ethiopia and Eritrea Major General Robert Gordon has called for “building mutual confidence” between the two sides. He said that by forging a close partnership, both sides could overcome what he described as “local problems.” Military leaders from both Ethiopia and Eritrea met under the auspices of the Military Coordination Commission (MCC). Under the terms of the peace deal signed by both countries in December 2000, the MCC provides a forum for military leaders to thrash out details surrounding the peace process.

30: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for nearly 100,000 citizens expelled by both Eritrea and Ethiopia during their 1998-2000 border war to be allowed to return home and have their citizenship restored.

30: Fighting resumed in the southern Somali town of Baidoa on Wednesday when forces loyal to the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) chairman, Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, attacked troops loyal to the RRA faction of Shaykh Aden Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, his former deputies. At least six people were killed and many others were wounded in the fighting.

31: Ethiopia has said it will welcome Eritrean President Isayas Afeworki if he comes to the capital, Addis Ababa, for the African Union (AU) summit, which will convene on February 1. Haile Kiros, who in charge of the preparations for the summit for Ethiopia, which is hosting the four-day meeting, said differences had to be put aside for the sake of Africa.

February 3: The Somali peace conference underway in the Kenyan town of Eldoret is said to have stalled for lack of a quorum by the regional technical committee that is piloting the proceedings. Some prominent faction leaders are also absent from Eldoret.

3: At the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, South African President Thabo Mbeki urged African leaders to use their influence to resolve the crisis in Iraq. He called on heads of state to wield pressure through the UN’s Security Council to ensure a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

4: Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka said that Somali factions attending peace talks underway in Eldoret, Kenya, face expulsion or other sanctions if they continue to violate the October 27 ceasefire agreement. There have been continued violations, with fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, the towns of Las Anod in the northeast and Baidoa in the southwest, and in the Bari, Bay, Bakol, Gedo and Lower Shabelle regions.

5: A local businessman said a severe fuel shortage has hit the Somali capital, Mogadishu, over the past two weeks due to the fact that no cargo of petroleum had reached Mogadishu for "at least a month.” Fuel prices have sky-rocketed, with the price of petrol doubling within a week. The shortage was reportedly affecting not only the transport sector but also many of the light industries which had proliferated in the city over the last couple of years.

5: A high-level United Nations team began a five-day visit to the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, to see how the U.N. can do more work in Puntland and strengthen working relations with the Puntland authorities. A team from the UN Development Programme was also visiting Puntland with a view to re-establishing specific programmes.

6: In an interview with the U.N.’s news agency IRIN, Somalia’s Transitional National Government (TNG) Foreign Minister Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim said “tremendous difficulties” face Somalia, but there is widespread recognition that if the conference doesn’t succeed and there is no other alternative, then Somalia will be “doomed.” He said that if the international community recognized Somaliland “you usher in disintegration, because there will be others seeking secession and the international community will face a very difficult situation if they open that door.” He denied that Somalia is a base for Al Qaeda organizations.

6: The first group of Somali Bantu refugees will probably reach the United States this spring after the U.S. agreed to take them in. The 12,000 or so refugees under consideration for admission to the U.S. have been in refugee camps in Kenya for over 10 years.

7: Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki described Ethiopia as the "spoilt child of the world's superpowers.” He said some countries were afraid of Ethiopia's "disintegration" and therefore believed "it is better to take care of the present regime.” He accused Ethiopia of hindering border demarcation, because of its "desire to incorporate Badme into Ethiopian territory.” Both countries claim to have been awarded Badme. 10: The Somali peace talks currently under way in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret are to be moved to the capital, Nairobi, by February 15, said an organizer.

10: A foreign ship and its crew, held for six months by Somali militiamen, escaped on Saturday from the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland. More than a dozen gunmen in speedboats originally seized the North Korean-registered, Greek-owned cargo ship last August off the coast of Puntland.

11: Ethiopia dismissed claims by Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki that it is massing troops on the common border. Information Minister Bereket Simon said that if Ethiopia had been massing troops, the UN peacekeeping force which patrols a 25-km wide buffer zone would be aware. “We would like to avoid any conflict. That is the last thing we need.”

11: A controversial new Ethiopian draft press law violates African goals of freedom of expression and good governance set by the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD), said the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA). Elements of the new law include sections whereby newspapers will have to pay tax on press releases and government officials have 30 days to respond to a question.

12: Large foreign ships are harassing and intimidating Somali fishermen around the southern coastal towns of Marka and Barawe, according to local fishermen. Marka fisherman Mahmud Kulow Aweys said that many of the ships were fishing in Somali waters illegally, cut the nets of local fishermen at night, and had arms and occasionally opened fire on Somali fishing boats.

13: Major General Robert Gordon, the UN’s Force Commander in Ethiopia and Eritrea, reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to the peace process. He said the armed forces of both countries had shown great discipline in abiding by the terms of a peace deal signed in December 2000.

13: A food security watchdog for Somalia has predicted a good secondary harvest during January-February in southern Somalia, following a satisfactory Deyr, or short rainy season, in the country.

14: A man has been killed by a mine in the 25 km buffer zone that separates Ethiopia and Eritrea, Phil Lewis, who heads the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), told a weekly news briefing linking Addis Ababa and Asmara. He said it was possible that mines were being planted within minutes of an explosion. The UN’s Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) says it has no idea who is planting the new mines, which Lewis said was “terrorizing” the local population.

2. Book Review: A country without people in a world without conscience: Will Somalia be born again? (translation)

Author: Maxamed Daahir Afrax

Language: Somali.

Date of publication: December 2002

Review by Ahmed Isse Awad

I believe it was the German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, who came up with the perceptive remark that the difference between the developed world and the less developed one is that the former has an “open space for discourse” that does not exist in the latter. There can be no doubt of the role that open discourse and unbridled debate can play in the constant rejuvenation, vitality, and progress of nations. It is, after all, the free exchange of information and ideas that enhance people’s capacity to separate white noise from relevant things that really matter in peoples’ lives.

It is, therefore, a good omen for the future of Somalia that a book that ushers in open discourse and serious intellectual debate is launched at this moment in Somali history when the country is at a crossroads and much is at stake for the future of the Somalis as a nation.

Dr. Maxamed Daahir Afrax, the author of A country without people in a world without conscience: Will Somalia be born again? is a novelist, playwright, critic, journalist and literary scholar who writes in Somali, Arabic, and English. His major published works include three novels in Somalia: ‘Guur-ku-sheeg’ (1975), ‘Maana-faay’ (1979) and ‘Galti-macruuf’ (1980), and a historical novel in Arabic, ‘Nida Al-Horiyah’ (1976), in addition to several short stories, in Arabic and Somali, published in different magazines in Somalia and the Arab world. He wrote two plays, one of which ‘Durbaan Been ah’ (A Deceptive Dram) was staged in 1979 by then famous Danan Artists several times at the Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu before going on tour.

In the field of criticism and literary studies, Dr. Afrax’s major contribution was a unique book of theatre criticism and historical analysis entitled ‘Somali Drama: Historical and Critical Study,’ which first came out in 1987. He is also the co-author of a multi-disciplinary book in English, The Somali Challenge, published in the United States in 1994. Dr. Afrax left Somalia in 1981 because of his criticisms of the elite, moved to Yemen for a while, and now lives in exile in London. While in exile, Dr. Afrax headed the Ministry of Information and Culture’s Theatre Research Section in the Yemen government. He is also a founding member of the African Writers Abroad Centre of the International P.E.N. in London, and received his PhD in literature from the University of London.

Dr. Afrax’s latest work can be roughly translated into English as A country without people in a world without conscience: Will Somalia be born again? The book expands on an earlier article that Dr. Afrax wrote that was published in many Somali newspapers and websites. He was also motivated to write the book after observing the proceedings of the Somali National Reconciliation Conference that was, until February 15, being held in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret.

Dr. Afrax’s basic premise is that there is now a pressing need as well as a unique opportunity for the Somali people – who have remained stateless and has been living under difficult conditions in the last 12 years – to engage in an all-inclusive national dialogue and enlightened debate about the future of their country, instead of relying on quick fix approaches to the Somali crisis and rushing into superficial power-sharing deals without trying to identify and address the root causes of Somalia’s present predicament.

The book is divided into five chapters containing several sections and sub-sections, all of which are organized in an amazingly coherent structure centering on an original thesis or central argument. In Chapter 1, “A country failed by its people,” Dr. Afrax raises the provocative question of whether a whole nation can go crazy, and whether Somalis have all gone into a temporary psychiatric asylum! He then answers in the positive by using the authority of sociologists such as Eric Fromm, author of ‘The Sane Society.’ Dr. Afrax points out that the suicidal behaviour of the Somali people and the madness that possessed them have been brought about by the short-sightedness of its leadership elite, the apathy of its people, and by the intrigues and negative interferences of foreign powers including certain neighbouring countries. Dr. Afrax explains how the political leadership, the educated class, and the business class have betrayed the country by succumbing to and contracting the three deadly diseases that the author believes are responsible for the sad state of affairs in Somalia: clan chauvinism; war-mongering; and excessive love of political power.

In Chapter 2, “Negative foreign interference,” the author explains how Somalia has been let down by both its own people and external actors. The combination of these two negative factors has laid the seeds of Somalia’s self-annihilation. The author laments how the international community, particularly Western powers, contributed to the present predicament of Somalia and then left it alone to its own destructive devices as the voices of the Somali people and their many appeals to be rescued fell on the deaf ears of a world community that seems to have lost its sense of moral obligation. Nonetheless, the author lays much of the blame on the Somali leadership elite, whose greedy ambitions coupled with the complacency of both the masses and outside actors have made the country and its people easy prey to the destructive exercise of internal and external evildoers.

On the other hand, however, Dr. Afrax highlights several shining examples of the positive role that the international community has played in supporting the Somali people. He lauds the generosity and hospitality that the Kenya government has shown by welcoming hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing from the inferno of the civil war into Kenya, while praising the neutrality and continuous efforts of the Kenyan government in finding a solution to the Somali problem, including the hosting of the National Reconciliation Conference now underway. Another bright example that the author cites is the continued humanitarian assistance provided by the United Nations, the EU, and other international organizations that continued to help the Somali people. The author has praised Ethiopia for the goodwill and generosity initially demonstrated in hosting Somali peace conferences and welcoming thousands of Somali refugees into the country. Yet, there have been deeply concerning recent and negative changes in Ethiopia’s policy towards Somalia, he notes.

In Chapter 3, “Djibouti’s role in the Somalia peace process,” Dr. Afrax praises the government and people of Djibouti – especially at the grassroots level – in their tireless efforts to help find a solution to the Somali conundrum. The study sheds light on many useful lessons learned from the Djibouti initiative, including “missed opportunities.” For example, he points out that had the international community supported the outcome of the peace process in Arta, the situation in Somalia could have been different from what it is today. It is to the credit of Djibouti that Somalia is once again represented in various international forums.

In Chapter 4, “Critical Assessment of the TNG experience,” the author assesses the achievements and failures of the Transitional National Government (TNG). For example, the TNG should have undertaken serious dialogue with the opposition, particularly in the early stages of its inception. The TNG should have also shown better judgment in how it managed the financial support it received from some friendly countries. The TNG leadership was expected to respect the rule of law and act according to the letter and the spirit of the Transitional National Charter, but failed in this and other endeavours.

On the other hand, the author points out that the TNG has demonstrated commitment to the promotion of the national interest and the introduction of forgotten democratic political practice. The TNG has succeeded, in spite of the challenges posed internally and externally, to lay some foundations for the state institutions that have been missing for more than a decade. The leadership of the TNG, despite its failures in other leadership aspects, has shown a sense of democratic tolerance and willingness to relinquish power by constitutional means. The examples cited in the book include the responsible response of the former TNG Prime Minister Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh, who was voted out of office when Parliament withdrew its confidence. The author also pointed out the TNG’s readiness to compromise and give concessions, while in Eldoret and before, by both current Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah, and the Speaker of Parliament, Abdulla Deerow Isaaq, as well as statements by TNG President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan to relinquish power if the Somali people so choose.

In Chapter 5, “Conclusion: can Somalia re-emerge from the abyss?” the author raises the question of whether Somalia can emerge from the abyss it has fallen into. Dr. Afrax is very much worried about the country’s future if current attitudes and practices continue. On the other hand, however, he is optimistic that the real roots of the problem can be recognized and properly addressed. He suggests that it takes hard work and a change of attitude on the part of the Somali people to get the country out of its miserable present situation. This requires replacing: clan chauvinism with a sense of nation-building guided by a clear vision of a new Somalia; the war-mongering culture by a culture of peace-mindedness and tolerance; and the thirst for political power – a despised greediness – with a democratic culture where dialogue, political tolerance, and the rule of law are valued most.

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