Paucity of political leadership at root of Somalia’s problems, says top UN envoy

31 December 2008
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah

Somalia’s problems are driven by a lack of responsible political leadership, the top United Nations envoy to the Horn of Africa nation said today.

In a letter to the diaspora, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said that there is an “emerging consensus that ultimately your country’s problems stem from the absence of accountable and committed national leadership.”

The key problem facing Somalia – which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 – is not one of security, but rather the vacuum in political leadership, he wrote.

“I am confident that progress is being made towards a situation where responsible leadership will have friendly relations with its neighbours, and smooth integration into the international community.”

The envoy hailed the recent “peaceful resignation” of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. He also noted the relocation of the leaders of the opposition group known as the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and delegates from the Joint Security Committee, comprising both the ARS and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), to the capital Mogadishu.

In June, the two sides signed a UN-facilitated peace accord, known as the Djibouti Agreement, under which they agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled nation.

The Djibouti process “has opened a new era in the history of your country,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said, adding that it has also “given the opportunity to all Somalis to witness the activity of a vital generation that is committed to peace and stability.”

With women and the younger generation losing hope after witnessing two decades of power struggles in Somalia, he said it is time for leaders to “demonstrate their commitment to peace and the well-being of their country.”

2009 will be a busy year for Somalia, with the first few weeks seeing the preparations for the election of a new president, the formation of a government of national unity and an enlarged Parliament. The Representative wrote that he hopes to hold talks with the business community, as well as with former top military and police officials to seek their views on how to bolster security and rebuild the national army.

“Somalia is entering a new era,” he said, calling on the diaspora to “catch the train of history and mobilize all efforts to maintain solidarity among all brothers in order to recover the integrity, sovereignty and dignity of Somalia.”


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