I thank the Governments of Ethiopia and Italy, as co-Chairs of the IGAD Partners Forum, for convening this important meeting on Somalia.
As we gather here today, our thoughts are with the people of Kenya. The horrific attack in Nairobi this past weekend was a grim reminder of the potent threat posed by Al-Shabaab. It reminds us that we must give the highest priority to our common goal of building peace in Somalia. Those who use terrorist tactics against the innocent cannot be allowed to prevail.
One year ago, at last year’s General Assembly, we met to mark a new era of opportunity in Somalia. We marked the end of the eight-year political transition and welcomed President Hassan Sheikh, who had just assumed office in Mogadishu.
Mr. President, we all recall that just days after your appointment, Al Shabaab launched an attack on the hotel where you were staying and vowed that they would never allow you to build peace in Somalia.
But you were not daunted from pursuing stability and opportunity in Somalia. You asked for our help. And we – Somalia’s friends and neighbours, including IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations -- pledged to forge a new partnership to support you. So this is a good time to take stock and consider what more we must do.
This year has seen a good start on the difficult discussions needed for Somalia to realize the vision of a federated state. I welcome the President’s initiative to open a new national dialogue, “Vision 2016”. I also welcome the agreement to form a new Interim Jubba Administration. These are important steps towards stabilization.
Ultimately, the political questions on the future of the state can only be decided by Somalis. The discussions should involve people from all walks of life; I encourage you in particular to make special efforts to include -- and listen to -- the country’s women.
But I also want to thank IGAD for the role it has played in facilitating negotiations. Our chances of success in any peace process are much higher when regional organizations and neighbours are constructively engaged. The United Nations and international partners will continue to work with you and the Somali authorities as political dialogue continues.
Somalia continues to face a serious security challenge. Advances to date are the result of partnership among Somalis, regional partners, and international supporters. Men and women of the African Union and its Member States have laid down their lives to help stabilize Somalia. The European Union, United States and other partners have contributed generously over many years to support AMISOM and the Somali forces.
This is the time to redouble our commitment to security. We cannot let our hard won gains be reversed. We need to ensure additional support to AMISOM and the Somali National Forces to combat Al-Shabaab.
The goal of our political and security efforts is to foster the conditions for Somali-led peacebuilding and statebuilding. In Brussels last week, Member States endorsed a new Compact for peacebuilding in Somalia that gives formal shape to the partnership we promised a year ago.
The Compact is the first country agreement reached under the “New Deal for Fragile States” that we approved at the Busan conference on aid effectiveness in 2011. It is grounded in respect for Somali ownership and sovereignty, and in mutual respect and accountability between Somalis and international partners.
In it, we pledge to work together to help Somalia meet its goals: an inclusive political system; strong, accountable security institutions; access to justice; economic opportunity; and a Government that is trusted and able to manage public funds in the public interest.
I urge all partners to commit fully to the Compact and work together to realize its goals.
I am optimistic about Somalia’s prospects.
There is solid commitment in the international community.
IGAD, as the responsible regional organization, continues to engage more dynamically.
The African Union and the United Nations enjoy a strong partnership, with our Special Representatives working with each other and with the Government.
Above all, I see the leadership of the Federal Government, and the daily courage of the Somalia people – teachers, judges, journalists, members of the diaspora returning, people opening businesses, and others taking risks for peace.
Our partnership makes sense only if it delivers for them.
Mr. President, I hope this forum will assure you of our continued support.