|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6532nd Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council Urges Somalia’s Governing Institutions to Reach Agreement
on Elections, as End of Transitional Period Approaches
Presidential Statement Expresses Concern at Discord, Unilateral Mandate Extensions
Noting that the transitional period in Somalia would end in August, the Security Council today urged the East African nation’s Transitional Federal Institutions to reach agreement as soon as possible on the holding of elections for the President and the Speaker of Parliament.
In a statement read out by Gérard Araud (France), its President for May, the Council expressed concern about the discord between the Institutions and its impact on the country’s political processes and security situation. It also expressed regret at their having unilaterally extended their respective mandates and urged them to refrain from any further such actions.
Noting with concern that many core transitional tasks set out in the 2008 Djibouti Peace Agreement and the Transitional Federal Charter remained outstanding, the Council called upon the institutions to “ensure cohesion, unite and focus” on completing those tasks, notably reconciliation, the Constitution and ensuring basic service delivery.
Furthermore, the Council deeply regretted the failure of the Transitional Federal Government to participate in April’s High-Level Consultative Meeting on post-transitional arrangements, convened in Nairobi by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and urged the Government to “engage fully, constructively and without further delay” in the consultative process in order to advance the peace process. In that context, the Council welcomed the upcoming consultative meeting scheduled for June in Mogadishu, the capital, and urged all Somali stakeholders to participate.
In addition, the Council called on the Transitional Federal Government to take advantage of tactical gains made by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali security forces in consolidating security and stability in the capital by delivering basic services and integrating military objectives into a clear political strategy. It called for an increased United Nations presence in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.
Briefing the Council earlier, Augustine Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), said the single most divisive issue among Mogadishu’s political groups was whether to hold elections in July or defer them until a later date. He stressed the urgent need to reach consensus on when and how to hold the elections, to define the mandate of the next dispensation and to defuse the stalemate between the legislative and executive branches of Government.
Regardless of the election date, he said, UNPOS was preparing a road map that would suggest benchmarks, timelines and resource requirements for the next Government to implement priority transitional tasks that its predecessor had failed to carry out. Regrettably, the process of political outreach and reconciliation by the Transitional Federal Institutions had stalled since the signing of the 2008 Djibouti Agreement, he continued, noting that the High-Level Committee provided for in the accord, with the aim of promoting dialogue among Somali actors, had not met since December 2009, despite his constant calls for it to do so.
Moreover, the President and Speaker had not worked together since the beginning of February, he noted, adding that Parliament’s unilateral decision to extend its term by three years and the Government’s deferral of elections for a year had further polarized relations between the two. While neither the President nor the Prime Minister had attended the April consultative meeting in Nairobi, he said he was heartened by the Transitional Federal Government’s decision to hold a multi-stakeholder meeting in June to carry on the consultative process. UNPOS would fully support that initiative, he stressed.
Emphasizing AMISOM’s crucial role in stabilizing Somalia, he said it would soon receive 3,000 additional troops from Burundi and Uganda, bringing its total authorized strength to 12,000. Still, the Mission needed force enablers and specialized capabilities, notably helicopters, he said. With its effectiveness impeded by critical resource gaps, Member States must fully support AMISOM with sustained troop and in-kind contributions so that it could close equipment gaps and fully carry out its mandate.
Noting the African Union’s call for the Council to take more robust action to prevent supplies from reaching insurgents, the port of Kismayo had increasingly become a commercial hub for the Al-Shabaab extremist group, he said, stressing that the Council’s Sanctions Committee must consider action against violators of the United Nations arms embargo operating through Kismayo’s harbour and airport.
Turning to piracy off the coast of Somalia, he said UNPOS and the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs were preparing a report for the Council on the establishment of specialized courts to try suspected pirates and continue to develop regional prosecution and prison capacities. UNPOS was setting up a piracy unit as the United Nations focal point for coordinating all related activity, he added.
Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia said Transitional Federal Government troops and AMISOM forces were reclaiming significant territory from extremist groups in Mogadishu and areas bordering Kenya and Ethiopia. They had recaptured key districts and towns in Gedo and Juba. “Together, the [Transitional Federal Government] and AMISOM forces continue to push the extremist forces back each and every week,” he said, emphasizing that “defeating extremists from Somalia requires the same level of commitment to that of Afghanistan and Iraq”. Calling on the international community to bolster logistical support so that Government troops and AMISOM could consolidate and sustain those gains, he thanked Burundi and Uganda for contributing troops. “We hope that the efforts of AMISOM forces in Somalia will show the world that African countries can solve their problems regionally,” he said.
He criticized as unconstitutional the Transitional Federal Parliament’s unilateral decision to extend its term for three years without first consulting properly with other Transitional Federal Institutions. Those institutions would cease to exist as of August 2011, and the current Parliament lacked a constitutional mandate to elect a new President, he pointed out. “A post-August legally elected legislature will be the legitimate Parliament to elect a President,” he added.
The President had called on Parliament to reconsider its decision, but the Speaker had so far rejected that appeal, he said. “With such visible progress on the ground, this is the worst possible time to be distracted by untenable election processes and the divisive campaigning that will inevitably take place,” the Prime Minister said, warning that Al-Shabaab would surely capitalize on that division to try and strength its position.
He said that to address the situation, he had asked Parliament and international partners to extend the mandate of the Transitional Federal Institutions for 12 months in order to further stabilize and secure the country politically, thus creating a chance for free and fair elections. He said he had appointed a ministerial committee and asked Parliament to meet with it in order to settle differences amicably and reach consensus on the way forward. Furthermore, the Transitional Federal Government would hold a multi-stakeholder meeting in June to carry on the consultative process, he added.
The Somali people’s support for and confidence in their Government was growing thanks to the latter’s steady efforts to deliver services and good governance, he said. Civil society groups were beginning to mobilize, and in the past two months alone, the Government had opened a new hospital, taken charge of operations at a school adjacent to the Jaziira military training camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, and set up two other schools for poor and orphaned children. Moreover, private investors were sinking their money into new construction projects, he said, adding that the first national television and newspaper, Dalka, had recently relaunched.
Somalia was in the first line of defence against the two evils of piracy and terrorism, both of which were rooted in lawlessness, poverty and unemployment, he said. In light of the killing of Osama bin Laden, his Government had declared a state of high alert, due to credible information that Al-Qaida and Al-Shabaab were planning revenge attacks. He also stressed that the rule of law must be brought back on land to defeat piracy on the high seas. Overall, the Transitional Federal Government’s five main priorities continued to be improving security, enhancing reconciliation, completing transitional tasks, addressing the humanitarian crisis and promoting good governance, he said.
Reta Alemu Nega (Ethiopia) said progress over the past week towards improving security in Somalia could potentially change the country’s political landscape. Those gains should be preserved and built upon as they had major positive implications for the fight against global and regional terrorist groups.
He said that focusing on the weaknesses of the Somali authorities was unfair and may not serve common objectives. The point was to give AMISOM more security support so that it could better help the Transitional Federal Government on a range of issues, and to engage in serious consultations, drawing on security gains, on how to sort through the country’s political problems.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and suspended at 11:05 a.m. Resuming at 1:30 p.m., it ended at 1:40 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2011/10 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reiterates its grave concern at the continued instability in Somalia, which has led to a multitude of problems, including terrorism, acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, hostage taking and a dire humanitarian situation, and reiterates the need for a comprehensive strategy to encourage the establishment of peace and stability in Somalia through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.
“The Security Council reiterates its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia. It reaffirms its support for the Djibouti Agreement and peace process as the basis for the resolution of the conflict in Somalia. It reiterates the importance of political outreach and reconciliation in Somalia, and stresses the importance of broad-based, representative institutions reached through a political process ultimately inclusive of all.
“The Security Council expresses its support for the work of Augustine P. Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), the United Nations and the African Union to promote peace and reconciliation in Somalia.
“The Security Council notes that the transitional period will end in August 2011. It commends the work of the SRSG to facilitate the consultative process amongst Somalis in their efforts to reach an agreement on post-transitional arrangements, in consultation with the international community and within the framework of the Djibouti Agreement. In this regard, it welcomes the High-Level Consultative Meeting held in Nairobi on 12 and 13 April 2011. The Security Council welcomes the participation of a wide range of Somali stakeholders and partners. It deeply regrets the failure by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to participate in this consultative meeting and urges the TFG to engage fully, constructively and without further delay in the consultative process facilitated by the SRSG, and to support his efforts to move the peace process forward.
“The Security Council welcomes the upcoming consultative meeting to be held in Mogadishu, which will further the debate generated at the High-Level Consultative Meeting in Nairobi. The Council urges all Somali stakeholders to participate in this meeting and play a role in finalizing arrangements for ending the transition in August 2011. It calls upon the international community, the United Nations and international organizations to fully support this meeting.
“The Security Council reiterates the primary responsibility of Somalis to achieve peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia. It regrets the decisions taken by the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) to extend their mandates unilaterally and urges them to refrain from further unilateral action. The Security Council urges the TFIs to focus on implementing reforms to build their legitimacy, representativeness and credibility, and to reach agreement as soon as possible on the holding of elections for the positions of President and Speaker of Parliament, without which there can be no extension.
“The Security Council expresses concern at the discord between the TFIs and its impact on the political process and the security situation. It calls upon the TFIs to ensure cohesion, unite and focus on the completion of the transitional tasks set out by the Djibouti Agreement and the Transitional Charter. It stresses the importance of cooperation and collective leadership by the President and Speaker.
“The Security Council notes with concern that many core transitional tasks remain outstanding and urges the TFIs to demonstrate tangible results on the completion of these tasks before the end of the transition, prioritizing progress on reconciliation, the Constitution and facilitating the delivery of basic services. It notes its intention to keep the situation under review, and notes that its future support to the TFIs will be contingent upon the delivery of tangible results.
“The Security Council strongly commends the progress made by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali security forces in consolidating security and stability in Mogadishu and recognizes the significant sacrifices made by these forces. It calls on the TFG to take advantage of these tactical gains by demonstrating progress on facilitating the delivery of basic services, the integration of military objectives into a clear political strategy in line with the Djibouti Agreement, and all the other benchmarks spelled out in operative paragraph 3 of resolution 1964 (2010). It calls for an increased United Nations presence in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia, and calls on the United Nations to work in a coordinated manner.
“The Security Council reiterates its full support to AMISOM and expresses its continued appreciation for the commitment of troops by the Governments of Burundi and Uganda. It stresses the importance of predictable, reliable and timely resources for AMISOM in order for it to better fulfil its mandate. The Security Council calls upon the international community to make contributions urgently to AMISOM, without caveats. It notes the recommendations on Somalia of the African Union Peace and Security Council of 15 October 2010 and underlines its intension to keep the situation under review.
“The Security Council calls upon all States, particularly in the region, to fully implement the Somalia and Eritrea arms embargoes. The Security Council condemns attacks, including terrorist attacks, on the TFG, AMISOM and the civilian population by armed opposition groups and foreign fighters, particularly Al-Shabaab. It calls upon all opposition groups to lay down their arms and join the peace process.”
Before the Council was the report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (document S/2011/277), which calls urgently on international partners to provide military and humanitarian support to enable the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to stabilize, recover and rebuild the capital, Mogadishu.
“If we can reinforce the military gains, provide humanitarian relief and achieve political progress, we can set Somalia on course to greater stability and peace,” the Secretary-General writes. “If we fail, we risk a growing humanitarian crisis, a deteriorating security situation and a worsening threat to regional peace and security, he warns, stressing that the international community must “keep its end of the bargain”.
According to the report, the Secretary-General welcomes efforts by the Transitional Federal Government to expand its control in Mogadishu and take hold of major towns in south-central Somalia, which have been under attack by Al-Shabaab and other Islamist militants, forcing thousands of people to flee. He condemns the use of civilians as shields and the launching of attacks from populated areas.
The report notes that the decision by the African Union and the European Union to raise AMISOM allowances to the United Nations levels will help the Transitional Federal Government to bring more territory under its control. However, resource gaps continue to have an adverse impact on the Mission’s effectiveness, possibly discouraging troop contributors. The Secretary-General calls on Member States to make prompt and generous payments to the United Nations trust fund in support of AMISOM, “without caveats”, or direct bilateral donations.
Calling for reinforcing police capacity, establishing basic administrative services and other measures to stabilize the security situation in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, the Secretary-General also encourages Council members to take more steps to disrupt the group’s supply lines for arms and other goods. On the humanitarian front, he expresses concern over the unfolding drought, and notes that, as of April, only one quarter of this year’s $529 million humanitarian appeal has been funded.
* *** *For information media • not an official record