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Cablegate: Somalia - Transitional Parliament Re-Convenes After

VZCZCXRO4984
RR RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2543/01 3580917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240917Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0286
INFO SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002543

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/RSA AND A/S CARSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SO SOCI KDEM PINR
SUBJECT: Somalia - Transitional Parliament Re-convenes After
Three-Month Recess

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 21, the Somalia Transitional
Federal Parliament (TFP) kicked off its tenth session following a
three-month recess. Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
President Sharif opened the TFP with a well-received speech that
focused on security and urged the administrations of Puntland and
Somaliland to join forces with the TFG in the fight against
"al-Qaeda" threats. President Sharif also highlighted TFG progress
in reforming and training its security forces, appointing a new
chief justice as well as a governor for Banadir region, and
replacing the heads of the TFG police and military. 285 of the
TFP's 550 deputies were in attendance. Mortar attacks by
al-Shabaab did not succeed in interrupting the session. End
summary.

2. (SBU) On December 21, the Somalia Transitional Federal
Parliament (TFP) re-convened in Mogadishu following a three-month
recess. Only 285 of the 550 TFP deputies were in attendance.
(Note: About 385 MPs had been regularly present during the TFP's
previous session. As estimated one hundred of the absent MPs are
reported to be in Nairobi.) In his opening remarks TFP Speaker
Madobe urged those absent to return to Mogadishu. The Speaker took
note of unhappiness among the MPs over the inability of the TFG to
regularly pay their salaries. (Note: The MPs were last paid by
the TFG in November, but have received salaries for only four
months since January. UNDP had paid salaries until the TFG assumed
responsibility. The doubling in the size of the TFP with the
January 2009 TFG - Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia merger
and the large salaries that the MPs receive --$1200/month-have
complicated efforts to pay them regularly. End note.)

3. (SBU) TFG President Sharif, dressed in military fatigues,
opened the tenth session by calling on the MPs to back the TFG
security forces' efforts to defeat "terrorist groups opposed to the
TFG." Addressing the security threat, Sharif said, was his
government's top priority and the TFG security forces were
militarily able to defeat its enemies. He urged the Puntland and
Somaliland administrations to join forces with the TFG in fighting
threats from "al-Qaeda."

4. (SBU) Sharif highlighted to the MPs his government's
progress in recruiting and training TFG security forces, as well as
in streamlining their chain-of-command. Sharif also assured the
MPs that the international community was firmly behind the TFG, and
that the Somali people backed the government. Among the positive
steps taken by the TFG, Sharif said, were the appointment of a
chief justice and a new governor for the Banadir region. The
President also highlighted the replacement of the head of the armed
forces and the chief of police.

5. (SBU) Although he had assured the MPs of the international
community's support, Sharif lamented the fact that some pledges
made at the Brussels International Contact Group meeting remained
unfulfilled. He urged that the international community "fulfill
its pledges to the Somali people, who are currently confronting
brutal radicals intent on de-stabilizing not only Somalia, but the
entire region."

6. (SBU) Although the speech was generally upbeat, Sharif
admitted that the TFG had made mistakes, and invited the TFP to
debate its performance during its sessions. Sharif's invitation
sparked the most commentary among Somali contacts in Nairobi. Some
saw in it an effort by the President to use criticism by the
Parliament as leverage in his on-going efforts to re-configure the
Cabinet. Others, including the President's Chief-of-Staff, told us
that the President's intention was to urge the Parliament not to
take its complaints about the government to foreign capitals.

NAIROBI 00002543 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) On the agenda for the TFP in its tenth session is
the 2010 TFG budget, the constitutional process, and a debate on
the TFG's performance since it came to power almost one year ago.
With a nod to that impending debate Sharif, in his remarks, urged
MPs to act responsibly.

8. (SBU) As has been the case with past sessions, the TFP met
in the Banadir Federal offices for reasons of security. The media
reported that armed opposition forces attempted to disrupt the
TFP's work by lobbing mortars at the building while Parliament was
in session.

9. (SBU) Comment: Although the number of MPs in attendance
was significantly down, it is noteworthy that a core group of
transitional institution members brave very dangerous conditions,
as witnessed by the December 3 suicide bombing that claimed the
lives of three TFG ministers, in order to advance the Djibouti
peace process. Somalia Unit is urging those MPs who remain in
Nairobi to join their colleagues in Mogadishu.
RANNEBERGER

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