Better future for Somalia must remain collective priority, Ban says at high-level meeting

A street scene in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Photo: AU-UN IST/Stuart Price

28 September 2015 – Outlining the progress made so far by the Government and people of Somalia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that a better future for the Horn of Africa nation must remain a collective priority for the international community.

Addressing a high-level meeting on Somalia, held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual debate, Mr. Ban said the country has made “steady progress” in building a federal, democratic State.

In particular, he highlighted the formation of a new interim regional administration, the launch of the constitutional review process, and the creation of a National Independent Electoral Commission. In addition, a National Consultative Forum was launched on 19 September to agree on the 2016 electoral process.

“These are important steps, but the momentum must be sustained. Somalia cannot afford to get side-tracked by partisan politics or self-interest,” the Secretary-General cautioned.

“I urge all parties to work together on the goals they have set, including to complete state formation, advance the constitutional review and ensure an inclusive electoral process in 2016. There can be no extensions of the constitutionally mandated terms of the executive and legislature.”

Noting that the threat of Al-Shabaab continues to destabilize the country, Mr. Ban paid tribute to the African Union and bilateral partners, whose operations with Somali forces have expelled the militant group from key strongholds.

At the same time, he stressed that the threat of Al-Shabaab cannot be defeated by military means alone. “I call on all Somalis, as well as Somalia’s friends, neighbours and partners, to reflect on the need for a more comprehensive approach to counter violent extremism in the country,” he said.

“We need to understand the factors that drive people to join Al-Shabaab. We must help Somali authorities forge a viable alternative: notably by building a State that offers political inclusion, security, justice and economic opportunity to all – and that respects the human rights of all and empowers the country’s women.

“We must help counter propaganda, and offer a path out of violence for those ready to leave Al-Shabaab. A strong regional approach and collaboration will be important in furthering this objective.”

Mr. Ban also stated that the time has come to invest more support in the Somali police, to help provide security in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab. He asked all partners to deepen their efforts as part of the broader development of the criminal justice system. Greater attention also needs to be devoted to the country’s economic recovery, as well as to the dire humanitarian situation in which some 855,000 Somalis face acute food insecurity and over a million are internally displaced.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told the meeting that Somalis are about to begin consultations for an electoral process that will enable them to elect their own leaders for the first time in 47 years, since the last election in 1969.

He highlighted key areas of focus, including ensuring security and economic recovery, which is critical to a better life for the Somali people, and the need to support the recently established regional governments, which will be the foundation of a full-fledged federal republic of Somalia.

Also vital will be ensuring that the “fragile” humanitarian situation in Somalia does not also contribute to the country’s insecurity, he stated.

“Three million Somalis are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic daily needs. This is not acceptable anymore compared to the development and the progress in security and politics in Somalia,” said the President.

He added that the Government is committed to a broad and inclusive process that makes certain that decisions are taken in a representative manner and that promotes the participation of women and minority groups.

“There will be room for discussion but not disengagement. There will be room for perspectives but not for politicking. There will be room for negotiations but not for negativity. The Somali people deserve success not spoilers.

“The seed for peace has taken root in Somalia and I have no doubt it will bloom into a tree whose branches shelter us all.”

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