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‘No time to lose’ to advance peace and democracy in Somalia – Ban

Delegates attend a plenary session of the National Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu, Somalia.
UN Photo
Delegates attend a plenary session of the National Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu, Somalia.

‘No time to lose’ to advance peace and democracy in Somalia – Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised Somalia for the progress in its democratic transition and called on the international community to continue supporting the East African nation, stressing that “there is no time to lose” as the country is still facing serious humanitarian and security challenges.

“Today the change we have awaited so long has come,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks at the mini-summit on Somalia, held in New York on the margins of the high-level debate of the 67th General Assembly.

After decades of warfare, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps over recent weeks helping bring an end to the country’s eight-year political transition period. These steps included the adoption of a provisional constitution, the establishment of a new parliament and the selection of a new president.

“The process of ending the transition was not always smooth. But it was more inclusive and representative than any such efforts Somalia has seen in a generation,” noted Mr. Ban. “In full view of the Somali people, young and old, men and women from all clans took part. They showed courage and integrity in the face of immense pressure.”

Among those attending today’s meeting were senior African Union officials, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), Augustine Mahiga, and Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. The new Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, joined in by video link from the capital, Mogadishu.

“Today we begin a new partnership for peacebuilding in Somalia – on that is led by Somalis and grounded in shared principles – to build peace and opportunity for the long term,” Mr. Ban said, adding that continued support is needed to address the security and humanitarian situations.

In recent weeks, there have been several attacks which have led to numerous deaths, including a member of parliament as well as journalists and civilians. In addition, two million people affected by drought and violence are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“I urge you now, immediately, to redouble your efforts to support Somalia,” Mr. Ban told participants at the meeting. “We must also pave the way for Somali institutions to assume primary responsibility for security. I appeal to each of you to consider how you can contribute to democracy, justice and state-building in Somalia.”

The Secretary-General also emphasized the importance of supporting Somali authorities to meet their human rights obligations and rebuild their institutions so that the country can successfully hold popular elections and a constitutional referendum in the next four years. However, he underlined that for progress to be long-lasting, Somalia would need continued international support.

“Our focus must be on helping to enable Somali institutions to rebuild and reconcile after two decades of war,” Mr. Ban said. “Somalia’s people have taken risks for peace and they will need to show even more courage in the years ahead. We must match their courage with our commitment.”

The meeting resulted in a communiqué, in which participants committed to forge a new partnership for peacebuilding and statebuilding, work with Somali authorities in capacity building in the areas of security, justice, economic recovery and human rights, among others, and pledged to enhance their support for the country’s justice sector.

Participants also reaffirmed their support for humanitarian efforts in the country and agreed to meet again to discuss concrete steps to show their support.

“Moving forward, we look forward to building a new partnership based on Somali priorities and leadership, competent and representative national institutions, and mutual trust and accountability,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told reporters after the meeting.

“The international community will insist on a serious effort by the Somali leadership and institutions to manage resources transparently and accountably and to govern inclusively in the interests of all Somalis.”

During a meeting yesterday, Mr. Ban congratulated the Somali Prime Minister on the important political progress that has taken place with the completion of the transition period, and discussed the need for support for stabilization efforts in the coming months.