Although it continues to make gains against al Shabab in Mogadishu, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is, politically speaking, a mess. An article from Reuters makes clear how sick the international community is getting of the TFG’s infighting – and how hard it is for donors to ditch the TFG, weaknesses and all. The UN, to break the TFG’s internal deadlock, is now proposing a power-sharing agreement between President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his rival, Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden:
“The bottom line is that they all want to cling to power. So, around that fundamental issue, could there be a possibility of power-sharing? I don’t know,” said Augustine Mahiga, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general.
“Let them believe there is something for all of them, that there is a win-win situation,” he said in an interview.
Mahiga said incentives should be brought to the negotiating table, referring to planned talks in Mogadishu later this month.
Those could include more funds to finance government projects, or handing the government more say in defining the reforms and rewarding good performance, Mahiga said.
The envoy hoped the talks would include regional leaders, local elders and women and move the debate beyond the row between president and speaker.
“This (inclusiveness) will create an atmosphere where the two protagonists can save face,” he said.
Mahiga’s cynicism is striking. One part of the dispute between Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Aden concerns whether planned presidential elections will occur in August of this year (Sheikh Aden’s preference) or August of next year (Sharif Ahmed’s). A power-sharing agreement would, in some sense, subvert the ideal of democracy represented by those elections. That Mahiga is willing to discuss this possibility with journalists suggests to me that the UN and other international backers of the TFG are really frustrated with the situation, and are simply looking for any workable short-term solution to the infighting.