Somalia: April 1, 2004


Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia have been advising various factions in the Somalia peace talks in Kenya, and this has led to an inability to decide how the initial parliament will be formed. The problem is in determining who will get how many seats. Many of the warlords have an exaggerated view of their own power (political or military), and many have withdrawn from the final negotiations over allocating the parliamentary seats. Without the participation and agreement of all the major factions, the new national government won't work. While the traditional clan leadership (a council of clan elders) is eager to establish a new government, mainly because the elders see their kinsmen dying from starvation and disease. The warlords cause death and fear as a matter of course, and only perk up when they see their power threatened. The warlords also know that an effective national government could soon become powerful enough to defeat, and kill or imprison, the warlords. Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia each support, or dislike, some warlords more than others. Dealing with the warlords is the key to Somalia's survival as a nation, and so far no one has figured out how to do it. 


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