Somali President cites successes in rebuilding country; urges support in fight against terrorist groups

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

26 September 2013 – Recalling the major milestones Somalia achieved over the past year, the country’s President today told the United Nations that bolstering its political and governance gains requires international support, particularly the ongoing struggle to drive out armed groups such as Al-Shabaab, which continue to menace the Horn of Africa.

“Somalia would not have ended the transition last year without the help of the United Nations and all other countries that stood with us during difficult times,” Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told the General Assembly, while making it clear that the “difficult times” are far from over, with Al-Qaida and its offshoots such Al-Shabaab still wreaking havoc across the region.

In that context, he strongly condemned the “cruel and terrible attack” on Westgate shopping mall last weekend in Nairobi, Kenya. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, proving that the armed group is “down” but not out. They must be combated on many fronts: military, economic, political and ideological.

“We now need the tools to finish the job and we call on our friends to remain resolute and help us to end this situation. Our brave Somali forces, AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), and Ethiopia, need help to fight our enemies,” Mr. Mohamud declared, adding specifically that AMISOM must be reinforced and expanded.

“Little investment is required for these enhancements, [indeed it will be] insignificant compared to the great expense that will be needed later if the international community does not help finish the job,” he said, urging comprehensive action while at the same time cautioning against “overreacting to or underestimating” the threat.

Mr. Mohamud went on to draw the Assembly’s attention to the "New Deal" agreed for Somalia earlier this month at an international conference in Brussels. It aims to drive the country’s economic and political recovery and lay a strong foundation for building reliable, transparent, accountable and functioning State institutions, respectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms and equality of Somalia’s citizens.

“We need to transform the lives of our people, reconnect with our citizens and enhance their wellbeing,” he said, acknowledging that the programme will have to show tangible results on the ground. In the meantime, the Government started a campaign to revitalize service delivery in districts and regions, provide healthcare, and enable access to clean water, among other positive initiatives.

Mr. Mohamud welcomed the recently-deployed UN Mission Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and said the operation is now working together with the Government to bring peace and stability to the country.

The President is one of scores of leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and Government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance.

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