Somalis in the United Kingdom expressed what they think should and should not be on the agenda at the international conference on Somalia in London on Feb. 23.
At the roundtable event spearheaded by The Guardian, Somali representatives of U.K. organizations raised their dismay over not being properly consulted with regard to the conference.
Mohamed Sharif Mohamud voiced out concerns on rumors that a committee of 15 states plans to head Somalia once the mandate of the transitional government ends in August. Mohamud, former ambassador to Somalia and former undersecretary general of the Arab League, said the plan — if true — is “direct colonisation.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed Elmi, chairman and founder of Somali Diaspora UK, said women should be at the forefront of social issues. Amina Souleiman, a Sheffield-based Somali activist, supports Elmi’s assertion. Souleiman said the draft document talks about a role for Islamists in Somali politics, but none about women’s role in the political process.
But Abdirashid Duale, CEO of international funds transfer company Dahabshiil, said Somalis should give the British government the “benefit of the doubt.” He said Somalis were so divided that it was hard to know who to consult.
All participants, however, agreed al-Shabab had to be engaged politically “at some point.” Rahma Ahmed, coordinator of the Somali Relief and Development Forum, said anyone who prioritizes Somalis has a role to play in Somalia’s future, “whoever that group might be.”
On Monday (Feb. 20), days after the roundtable event, International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien held a roundtable discussion with Somali community leaders in Bristol. The leaders were invited to share their insights on how the conference can help Somalis.
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