Thursday, 23 February 2012

Somali Twitter users angered by London conference

The Somali Twitter community hit back as international delegates met in London on Thursday to discuss piracy, poverty, famine, and armed conflict plaguing the country. Somalis around the world were enfuriated by what they perceived as a disproportional focus on piracy and terrorism during the talks and an under-representation of Somali voices. Many expressed doubt about the aims of the conference, believing that foreign interests were the main motivation behind the talks. Delegates from 40 countries including Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the prime minister of Somalia’s Transition Federal Government, attended the conference. The radical Islamic group Al Shabab, who are fighting the government and control large parts of Somalia, were not represented but reportedly warned of any “unwanted interference”.
Out of all the speakers during the morning session Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s words were the only ones to reverberate with many Somalis.
"We cannot hold conferences away from Somalia .. we have to be there," Turkey's foreign minister says #ldnsomalia
Ali Mohamoud@AliMohamoud
Turkish Foreign minister's speech touches the Somali soul truly. #LDNSomalia
Mina Abdi@geekinthejungle
having a conference on the future of Somalia outside of Somalia is stupid. #LDNSomalia
Davutogli also urged other countries to follow Turkey’s example and show support for Somalia by sending diplomatic missions to Mogadishu.
Turkey's For. Min. "We have to be present on the ground...this is psychologically important." Open embassies like us, he says. #LDNSomalia
During the public morning session the Somali prime minister was not given a chance to speak fueling the impression that Somalis had been sidelined in the debate. However, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had been the third person to speaker, after British prime minister David Cameron and UN general secretary Ban Ki Moon.
when is Silaanyo gona have a say? Bet they will let him speak in the end when everyone switches of #JustCurious to hear his view #LDNSomalia
President Sheikh Sharif: In order to find permanent solutions for problem of piracy we have to support all areas of Somalia #LDNSomalia

Young Somalis speak out

Youth group Young Voices of Somalia published five YouTube videos the day before the conference showing young Somalis living abroad deliver their message of what they believe would help their home country:
Ahead of the conference Somalians on Twitter urged their countrymen and others to set the hashtag #realsomalia24 trending. The campaign hoped to counter the pervasive image of a war torn country in peril.
Rahma Ahmed@RahmaToosooy
#realsomalia24 Somalia has the longest and most beautiful coastline in Africa
Photo: With 20 yrs of civil war & ruins, Somalia's architecture remains distinct & glories.#realsomalia24 #LDNSomalia
During the conference this cartoon was circulated on Twitter depicting the view that the conference is little more than a new ‘Scramble for Africa’ with foreign countries looking to protect their own interests in the region.
Why do they keep referring to 'stakeholders' of 'Somalia' ? Somalia is a country not a bloody company! #LDNSomalia
For some the talks reminded of Somalia’s colonial past, where it had been divided between French, British and Italian rule
Claire Provost@ClaireProvost
Something v uncomfortable about Italy's non-elected technocrats saying they'll help 'strengthen authorities' in Somalia #LDNSomalia
Taji Mustafa@tajimustafa
#Somalia needs home grown solutions, not more colonial intervention frm West #LDNSomalia
Sayid Ali@newsflick
As a #Somali myself, the LDN #Somalia conference worries me. #RealSomalia24
Cameron did acknowledge that ultimately only Somalis would be able to change the situation in their own country, in his opening address:
David Cameron: "The problems in Somalia can only be solved by the Somali people"#LDNSomalia
It seemed Cameron had dressed for the occasion with a colour co-ordinated tie:
Just in case you didn't believe me about Cameron's tie. That is spot-on #Somalia's flag blue.#LDNSomalia
US foreign secretary Hillary Clinton’s address honed in on Al Shabab:
Secretary Clinton: We must keep up the pressure on Al Shabaab so that their grip on Somalia continues to weaken #LDNSomalia #SecClinton
While the French foreign minister tackled the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden:
Minister Juppe of France reinforces the need to tackle the issue of maritime security in Somalia.#LDNSomalia
President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni also commented on the issue of piracy, while Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki said his country was struggling to support the large number of refugees as a result of Somalia’s instability.
President Museveni speaks about why controlling the Somali mainland is where efforts to prevent piracy should be focused. #LDNSomalia

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