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Canadian Diaspora challenge Ahmedou Ould Abdalla

Ahmedou meeting with Somali-Canadian Diaspora

On July 31, 2009, the Canadian Friends of Somalia, a non-profit organization based in Ottawa had arranged a meeting between the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations, Mr. Ahmedou Ould Abdalla and the members of the Somali Diaspora from Ottawa, Toronto, and Edmonton including academics and community leaders. The meeting took three hours and was held at the parliament of Canada.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and exchange views on how the Somali Diaspora can take a leading role in the political and the reconciliation process in our Somalia. The SRSG of the United Nations also briefed the Somali attendees on current situation in Somalia and his latest efforts on bringing peace to Somalia including his report to the Security Council on July 29.

A number of the participants were critical of the UN and particularly the leadership of the SRSG and his negative influence in the Somali peace process. They alluded to the fact that his Excellency became partisan in the Somali conflict and thus became part of the Somali problem. They advised him that the SRSG has outlasted his usefulness in the peace process and might be the time to change course.

The participants asked serious but vital questions to the SRSG including:

The role that the United Nations Political Office for Somalia played in the agreement between Somalia and Kenya on territorial waters and continental shelf. Some of the participants alluded to the fact that His Excellency Ould Abdalla was personally implicated in this agreement.

Why he is resistant to talk to the opposition including Alshabab and if in fact the SRSG had made any contact with the opposition groups.

Why he is not willing to work with and recognize the successful political processes of Puntland and Somaliland which were led and owned by the Somalis themselves. The participants emphasized the importance that the UN and donor countries should encourage the successful endeavors of these peaceful areas instead of creating alien principles and imposing them on the Somalis. The participants suggested that the only two genuine reconciliation conferences were held inside Somalia; both were Somali-owned, and both were funded by Somalis from their meager resources. The fruits of these conferences were the creation of two peaceful oases in a sea of conflict.

Acknowledging the fact that the much-hyped Djibouti reconciliation was a disaster for Somalia, what is next for the United Nations?

What is the role that the Somali Diaspora can take in the political and reconciliation process in Somalia?

Mr. Ould Abdalla as good old diplomat as he really is, was very evasive on directly answering most of the questions. He was not forthcoming in sharing any substantive information and was equally not responsive to the ideas of the participants. He was highly charged and came to the meeting with a preconceived notion that he can simply placate the participants with few verses from the Quran. His answers were short and nonessential.

The meeting was attended by two academics from the Somali Diaspora, Professor Abdiweli M. Ali of Niagara University and Professor Amina Mire of Carlton University. The two professors touched the substantive issues facing Somalia today including piracy, illegal fishing, and nuclear waste dumping. These provided some suggestive solutions to the current problem in Somalia and how the Diaspora can be engaged in partaking the peace process. Few of the advice they proffered to his Excellency were:

To widen the peace process and incorporate the Diaspora in a more structured and formal manner.

Allowing the Diaspora to take its unique position and employing the Somali professionals in the UN offices now occupied by non-Somalis without intimate knowledge of the local conditions and cultures.

That Somalia is not Mogadishu and Mogadishu is not Somalia. Somalia should not be a hostage for Mogadishu any more.

Before the meeting with the Somali Diaspora, the SRSG had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Canada, Mr. Cannon. The two gentlemen discussed the role that Canada can play in the current peace process and the reconstruction and development of the country, if and when peace returns to Somalia.

Mr. Farah Aw Osman, the Executive Director of the Canadian Friends of Somalia concluded the meeting with few encouraging remarks and thanking Excellency and the participants for coming and sharing their wisdom and experiences with each other. The master of the ceremony was Mohamed Sofe of the Young Somali Professionals.

The mood of the meeting was cordial and respectful, but the discussions were frank and candid. This meeting was totally different than most of the meeting his Excellency had with the Somali Diaspora because of the quality of the participants and the way it was organized and conducted.

Canadian Friends of Somalia


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