Somalia: Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Aden May Share Power

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.


10 thoughts on “Somalia: Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Aden May Share Power

  1. Nice article. It seems though that the meeting in Mogadishu this month is intended to reach a deal about when to hold elections, not a power-sharing conference.

    • That sounds right to me. I think this power-sharing deal is mainly Mahiga’s idea, but I assume the idea has support within other circles too.

  2. It seems impossible that Ahmed and Aden can suddenly share power after feuding for much longer than the present crisis. Saving face is hardly the core problem. Like you say, the mere suggestion illustrates the desperation within the international community. All strategic dilemmas must balance risk and reward: a 12-month extension or cleaning up all these issues before August.

    The AU’s military campaign is holding for now, but the TFG’s political vacuum will eventually be felt if it isn’t filled.

      • Can’t see how they would be held within a year, especially after Museveni put his foot down. Even then al-Shabab, corrupt TFG officials and local actors would have a field day. But one year is already testing the TFG’s limits. Defiantly a hard politico-military decision.

  3. Pingback: Somalia: It’s Not Just the TFG That Has Problems, It’s AMISOM Too « Sahel Blog

  4. Pingback: Withdrawals, lack of pay for African Union’s Somalia forces could thwart progress « Africa Defense Journal

  5. What do each Ahmed and Aden seek besides the generic statement power; is one or the other specifically interested in obtaining a specific goal, such as control of a certain or multiple regions and if so for what purpose ie, trade, commerce of some sort or authority over a certain group in a specific region(s)?

    Aside from being long term fueding partners it would be interesting to see which of the two stands to gain the most by achieving their desires and what those desires are specifically as knowing such may well provide an avenue for negotiations that could be far more easily successful than anticipated here.

    Which of the two is the wealthiest?

  6. Pingback: Withdrawals, lack of pay for African Union’s Somalia forces could thwart progress | African News

  7. Pingback: Somalia: Cracks in the TFG Widen « Sahel Blog

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