Mzee Haji and his team accompanied the ONLF leaders when the group returned to the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia in December 2018, following the signing of a peace deal between the two parties. This symbolic trip was the culmination of eight years of hard work and effort that Mzee Haji and his team put into the peace process.
Aden Abdi, Conciliation Resources’ Horn of Africa Programme Director, said:
“I am humbled and proud to have worked closely with Mzee Haji in the peace talks process, benefiting from his wise counsel, commitment to peace and sense of fairness.
He was so proud to see the fruits of his peace efforts. His elderly advice, always offered in private and in a gentle way, to the ONLF and the government was to work together in peace, resolve their differences through peaceful means and not through violence.”
Mzee Haji was a former Provincial Commissioner and Cabinet Minister in Kenya, and at the time of his death was the Senator for Garissa County. He was involved in a number of local and national peace initiatives. Most significantly, he was co-Chair of Kenya's Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI), a national dialogue process resulting from the post-election agreement between Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
Aden Abdi added:
“We send our condolences to the family and friends of Mzee Haji, and to the people of Kenya and Garissa. The Horn of Africa region has lost a leader, an elder and a peacemaker and the best way to honour his legacy is to redouble peace efforts in the region.”
Image: Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji (fifth from left) with members of the Government of Kenya facilitation team and the ONLF leadership.