30 January 2006 Welcoming an historic decision by Somali leaders to convene parliament for the first time inside the country on 26 February, the UN’s top envoy for Somalia today called on all sides to put the interests of the nation first and work together to rebuild the devastated country.
Next month’s meeting of the Transitional Federal Parliament, which was formed in October 2004 in neighbouring Kenya, will be held in the Somali town of Baidoa and represents a “very positive development,” said Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for the Horn of Africa country.
“It is the result of a lot of hard work and commitment on the part of the leaders of the Somali Transitional Federal Institutions. I warmly congratulate President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi on this announcement,” added François Lonsény Fall.
“Somalia has not had a functional State for 15 years and this is an important step not only for the nation but for the entire region,” he said.
Mr. Fall said the convening of parliament would be the beginning of transforming the Somali Transitional Federal Institutions into effective government bodies. The shattered country has endured the longest period of state collapse in recent history, starting in 1991 when President Siad Barre was toppled.
Mr. Fall, who took up his post as head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) last year with a mandate to spearhead reconciliation talks between the Somali leaders, urged all members of the parliament to attend next month’s meeting.
“The future of their country is now in their hands,” he said, urging all parliamentary members to “come together and unite, placing the supreme interests of the nation above selfishness.”
The UN envoy said the world body was ready to provide its full political support to the meeting and he called on the donor community to provide the financial and logistical support needed to convene it.