24 November 2008Welcoming a workshop at which the parties to a recent Somalia peace accord tackled the challenge of impunity, the top United Nations official for the strife-torn country has called on the international community to support them in the endeavour, which could include a commission of inquiry and an international court. “Impunity has been addressed in many post-conflict countries such as Burundi, Cambodia, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in a statement on the two-day workshop “on the critical challenges of Justice and Reconciliation,” attended by the Transitional Federal Government (TGF) and the Islamic Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). “Time has come to address impunity and crimes committed by Somalis since the beginning of the civil war. I am very happy that Somalis and representatives of the international community have convened to focus on this crucial issue.”Last month the TFG and the ARS signed accords in neighbouring Djibouti on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict, the establishment of a unity government and military forces, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who have been backing the TFG. But fighting is still continuing with other Islamic and rebel groups in a country that has been riven by factional conflicts and has not had a functioning central government since 1991. Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted that both parties stated their commitment to work closely together to address vigorously the problem of impunity. “To this end, it was agreed to establish a working group to facilitate a process of broader consultation leading to the formation of appropriate mechanisms to address impunity,” he said. “They agreed in particular to examine the possibility of establishing a Commission of Inquiry and an international court. I urge all parties, and the international community, to support the cooperation between Somalis to bring an end to impunity.”Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted that the talks were taking place at a time when piracy, a result of violence and impunity in Somalia, continued to threaten international shipping off the coast of Somalia with negative economic and environmental effects.
FINE GAEL MEPS have confirmed there is a strong desire among many politicians and officials in Europe for Enda Kenny to take one of two top EU jobs next year, but all think he is likely to remain at home.Speaking to TheJournal.ie in Brussels this week, Mairead McGuinness, Seán Kelly and Jim Higgins all confirmed that there is much talk of the Taoiseach becoming either the next president of the European Commission or the president of the European Council.Kelly said that he had even been approached by current Council president Herman van Rompuy in June who told him that they are serious about approaching Kenny for the role.“Mr van Rompuy came over to the table I was at and said: ‘Yes we’re serious about it, will you have a chat with your Taoiseach about it?’ “So I did and he [Kenny] was flattered, but I think his commitment to Ireland and to ensuring that he puts Ireland on a steady footing during his time as Taoiseach may inhibit his movements. The timing might be wrong for him. [But] quite obviously he’s very highly regarded here in Europe.”While the Council presidency does not become available until over a year from now Kenny could run as the European People’s Party (EPP) candidate for the presidency of the European Commission in May.Nominations for this take place at an EPP summit in Dublin next March. The chosen candidate will go on to face other European groupings’ candidates, including the current European Parliament president Martin Schulz who is the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats’ candidate.Officials in Brussels hope to have a US-style presidential competition for the position currently occupied by Jose Manuel Barroso, with continent-wide TV debates planned.‘Cloned’Speaking to this website, Ireland West MEP Jim Higgins said he would prefer Kenny to take van Rompuy’s role as head of the European Council as then Ireland would retain its European Commissioner.“I personally think it would be a great honour for Ireland if he gets one of the two plum positions,” he said. “We’ve never had it before, it’s recognition of the stalwart work he has done.”But Higgins added that he does not think Kenny will go for the position, saying: “Look, I’ve discussed it with Enda ad-nauseam and he has not indicated any resolve or any ambition to be here.”Despite this Kenny has not explicitly ruled out taking up a position in Brussels, saying only that he is “flattered” to have been linked with the two roles.McGuinness said that Kenny commands respect in Europe for his ability to compromise, citing negotiations on the EU’s seven-year budget which were largely concluded during Ireland’s presidency earlier this year.“Enda Kenny isn’t just popular, because anybody can be popular. Enda Kenny is hugely respected for what he has done,” she said.She added: “I haven’t seen it written down in a confidential document but everywhere in these corridors people say it to me and I think that’s hugely positive.”McGuinness, an MEP for Ireland East, joked that she would like to see Kenny “cloned” so that he could occupy both positions and remain Taoiseach, but added she believes he will stay in Ireland.“I still feel, knowing him, [he has] a personal input into Ireland’s recovery and his 24/7 commitment to Ireland and the recovery, and I suppose his ability to keep that going. Personally, I would think that he’s there for the long haul.”More: There’s something about Enda: Taoiseach ‘being seriously talked about’ for EU jobRead: 5 reasons why the government decided to exit the bailout and go it alone