1. The present report is submitted pursuant to the statement of the President of the Security Council of 31 October 2001 (S/PRST/2001/30), in which the Council requested me to submit reports at least every four months on the situation in Somalia. The report covers developments since my last report of 28 February 2007 (S/2007/115), and focuses, in particular, on the preparations for the national reconciliation congress, pursuant to the request contained in the Security Council presidential statement of 30 April 2007 (S/PRST/2007/13). It also includes an update on the security and human rights situation, and the humanitarian and development activities of the United Nations agencies and programmes for Somalia, as well as the status of contingency planning for a possible United Nations peacekeeping operation.
II. Main developments in Somalia
A. Preparations for the national reconciliation congress
2. In his address to the Transitional Federal Parliament on 1 March 2007, President Abdullahi Yusuf announced the convening of a national reconciliation congress. The congress will be held in Mogadishu and some 1,325 delegates from within the country and the diaspora are expected to attend, on the basis of the 4.5 clan power-sharing formula. The Transitional Federal Government also announced its intention to secure the capital and disarm the insurgents before the convening of the congress. The opening of the congress, initially scheduled for 16 April and postponed to 14 June 2007, has been postponed again until 15 July 2007, reportedly to allow more time to the Somali clans to choose delegates and to prepare the venue of the conference.
3. On 14 March, at a meeting in Nairobi, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi presented the Government's road map for governance, national dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia, and announced the setting up of the National Governance and Reconciliation Committee, consisting of six eminent Somali personalities, to be chaired by former President Ali Mahdi Mohamed. The Committee was mandated to independently organize and manage the congress. The Transitional Federal Government also requested that an international advisory committee, comprising members of the international community and headed by my Special Representative, be established to assist the Committee by providing political, technical and financial support to the congress. The international advisory committee met with the Committee on 10 April and 26 May in Nairobi to discuss preparations for the congress.
4. President Yusuf underscored the independence of the National Governance and Reconciliation Committee as the sole authority mandated to run the affairs of the congress, including the management of its resources, in a letter dated 8 April 2007, addressed to Prime Minister Gedi and copied to the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, Sheikh Aden Mohammed Nor, as well as the Chairman of the Committee. Parliament adopted a resolution endorsing the convening of the congress, but stressed that all decisions of the "final reconciliation conference" should be in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter. However, the resolution further stipulates that in the event of disputes or deadlock over the selection of delegates to the final reconciliation conference, the final arbiters shall be the members of Parliament from the areas concerned. The resolution also urges donors to speed up the process of providing the members of Parliament with the constituent visit allowance.
5. Many partners considered that the resolution was ambiguous since it did not make a distinction between the role of the Transitional Federal Parliament and that of the National Governance and Reconciliation Committee in the selection of the participants to the congress. My Special Representative addressed a letter to President Yusuf on behalf of the international advisory committee on 27 April, to seek clarification on the respective roles of Parliament and the Committee in the organization of the congress. In response, President Yusuf formally reiterated the independence of the Committee as the sole body charged with organizing and managing the congress.
6. During an official visit to Mogadishu on 10 May 2007, my Special Representative stressed to President Yusuf, Prime Minister Gedi and Transitional Federal Parliament Speaker Nor that it would be important for Parliament to recognize the independence of the National Governance and Reconciliation Committee by formally endorsing it. This would pave the way for the release, by the international community, of the funds needed to organize the congress. The three leaders agreed to convene a session of Parliament to address the issue. President Yusuf made it clear that the traditional leaders, acting under the auspices of the Committee, would be responsible for the selection of delegates to the congress. Parliament and the Committee would pool their efforts to help the traditional leaders in this process.
7. Throughout the reporting period, my Special Representative remained in contact with political leaders from all sides. He impressed upon all his interlocutors the need to engage in a true reconciliation process.
8. While the leaders of the former Union of Islamic Courts indicated their willingness to attend the meeting, they insisted that they would do so as a political entity. They also disagreed with the plan of the Transitional Federal Government to pacify Mogadishu through the forcible disarmament of armed groups. They further voiced their reservations on the choice of Mogadishu as the venue for the congress. The leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts have now linked their participation in the congress with the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia. Subsequently, in a press conference on 24 May, the leadership of the Union of Islamic Courts and former Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden announced that they will boycott the congress. The position of the Government is that all those who reject violence and accept the Government can participate in the congress as representatives of their respective clans.
9. The congress provides a useful opportunity to move the reconciliation process forward. However, the success of the congress hinges on ensuring that the process is owned and driven by Somalia, independently and objectively managed, and that it includes broad-based participation, including representatives of the diaspora. Adequate preparation and security arrangements are also critical for the success of the congress.
10. The congress should be seen as one step in a much broader reconciliation process and must seek to address fundamental issues relating to power-sharing and security, including the establishment of a comprehensive and verifiable ceasefire mechanism. The security situation in Mogadishu, which has so far been a major stumbling block on the path to peace, also has to be resolved by addressing the concerns of the discontented clans and of other interest groups, including the business community.