1 June 2012
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Permanent Mission of Somalia on Ending Country’s Transition


A broad commitment to the “rebirth of Somalia” had been evident in Istanbul, where business leaders, civil society representatives, traditional elders and international partners had been meeting since yesterday to discuss the end of that country’s transition process, said a top official from the Somali Permanent Mission to the United Nations at a Headquarters press conference today.


“We’re talking about a country that is still in the process of coming back,” said Omar Jamal, the Mission’s Chargé d’affaires, as he addressed correspondents.  Through the already-agreed transition process, the Somali community, its diaspora and its elders had committed to form a parliament, endorse a constitution, elect a new president and appoint a prime minister, among other goals — all by the final deadline of 20 August, he said.


The two-day Istanbul conference, which wrapped up today, helped to reaffirm the country’s rebirth after two decades of chaos and lawlessness, said Mr. Jamal.  Bringing together donors and high-profile leaders — including Somalia’s President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — the meeting had included discussions on key issues such as water, energy, roads and sustainability.  Additionally, Mr. Ban had reiterated an appeal to help establish Somalia’s national security forces.


President Ahmed attended the conference despite an attempt on his life on 29 May in the country’s Alamada area, about 15 kilometers west of the capital, Mogadishu, said Mr. Jamal, adding that a Transitional Federal Government soldier had been killed in the ambush, which had been carried out by Al-Shabaab fighters.


During a brief question-and-answer session, one correspondent asked about the response of Somalia’s various militia groups to recent changes in the country, as well as for more information about what was being done to ensure security.  Mr. Jamal responded that, following the successful push to gain control of Mogadishu from Al-Shabaab, the Transitional Government and its partners were now working to build a national security force, as well as a coast guard to ward off piracy.  Those forces would help to return “some level of normalcy” to the country, he said, adding that Al-Shabaab was the only serious militia threat at present.


Asked, in that vein, about the total troop strength of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he said that the number currently stood at 18,000.  However, “there’s always a call to increase the number of troops on the ground”.  With regard to the establishment of a coast guard, he noted that the European Union was integrally involved in that process, which was in its early stages.


A correspondent asked about the call to move United Nations agencies — many of which were conducting work on Somalia from remote locations — to Mogadishu.  Responding, he said that there was no longer a need for any agency involved with Somalia to work from outside the country.  It was logical for them to move to the Somali capital and operate from there, he stressed, adding that many agencies were already doing so, and that more would continue to move in that direction.


Among other questions raised was one regarding a recent World Bank report that had alleged that about $130 million was “not accounted for” by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.  Was there any new information on that report, or on accusations that the Government did not have a viable accounting system?  In response, Mr. Jamal said that he had seen the report but did not know much about it, and could not attest to its validity.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record