Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the international community to heed the “cries for peace” of the Somali people and help them overcome decades of instability and build a more stable and prosperous future.
Addressing the London Conference on Somalia, Mr. Ban said that an opportunity has presented itself that “we cannot afford to miss” to help the people of the Horn of Africa nation end threats and instability and to realize the vision of a productive and peaceful Somalia.
“This is a bold agenda. We have no more time to ‘wait and see’,” he told world leaders at the meeting. “To any donors still wavering, I say: get off the fence. Help prevent another famine and offer new hope to Somalia.
“Somalis have shown astounding resilience in the face of extreme hardship. They are ready to show the world they can rebuild their lives and their country with our support. We can do no less than answer their cries for peace.”
Mr. Ban called for steps to improve security, advance the political process and step up assistance for recovery, reconstruction and development.
Yesterday the Security Council extended the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) through 31 October and called for an almost 50 per cent increase in the 12,000-strong force to deal with continued insecurity in the impoverished country.
The Council stressed that coordinated action in the region is critical for the peace, security and stability of Somalia and called on AU member States to consider contributing troops to the force to help create the conditions so that Somalia can be responsible for its own security.
“Ultimately, our goal is to transfer security responsibilities to the Somalis and establish sustainable, credible and indigenous security institutions in the country,” said Mr. Ban, who called on governments to provide the necessary support to both AMISOM and to the Somali forces operating alongside it.
“This will take time. We must start now,” the Secretary-General added. “The Somalis first must agree on what security arrangements best suit their system of governance. International help must be well-coordinated to support the national security and stabilization plan. As the security institutions take shape, the country needs to disarm.”
Somalia has not had a functioning central government for the past 20 years, during which it has been torn apart by factional fighting and has faced a series of humanitarian crises, the latest being a food crisis that has left more than two million Somalis in need of aid.
Mr. Ban, who saw for himself the situation on the ground when he visited the capital, Mogadishu, last December, also stressed the need for political progress, adding that maintaining the momentum is “critical.”
“Mogadishu is more than the capital – it stands for the unity and integrity of Somalia,” he stated. “Success in the capital is important for progress all across Somalia. And it would pre-empt spoilers.
“We therefore need a surge in Mogadishu to show what is possible in southern-central Somalia. We need to consolidate military gains, provide basic social services and contribute to reconstruction.”
Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) are in the process of implementing a roadmap devised in September last year that spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on 20 August.
Before then, Mr. Ban noted, the country needs a new constitution, a smaller and more representative Parliament and elections for the positions of President, Speaker and Deputies.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Secretary-General said the London conference has created “strong political awareness and solidarity” and that the joint communiqué adopted by leaders sets out a clear path to address all issues in a comprehensive manner. “The coming three to four months will be crucially important in implementing what has been agreed and what needs to be followed up,” he stated.
While at the conference, Mr. Ban held separate meetings with various government officials to discuss Somalia and other issues of global concern. In his meeting with Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Secretary-General urged the Somali President to resolve outstanding differences with other Somali stakeholders quickly.
Mr. Ban also met today with Sweden’s Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, and its Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt; Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; President James Michel of the Seychelles; Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam of Mauritius; Foreign Minister Alain Juppé of France; Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo of Spain; and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia.