New UN Somalia envoy to focus on reconciliation

15:42, June 23, 2010      

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The newly appointed UN top envoy for Somalia said he would focus on political reconciliation and basic security as he prepares to begin his mission in the Horn of Africa nation.

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary General's Special Representative and the head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said encouraging reconciliation between warring political groups and boosting basic public security are critical to stabilizing Somalia. "But this is predicated upon the existence of a modicum of security in Somalia to enable this Transitional government or a government that brings in other political groupings to survive," he told UN Radio late Tuesday.

He said promoting reconciliation and a more inclusive political process must be a priority in a country that has not had a functioning national government in nearly two decades.

"So I would say the two go together -- political stability as a result of a process of reconciliation and inclusiveness, but also a security adequate to permit the government to reach out to the population and perform the functions of a government such as providing humanitarian aid and implementing some basic reconstruction activities and, at some point, to engage in economic and social development projects."

The lawless Horn of Africa has been without a functioning government since 1991 when President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown by warring factions.

The UN-backed Transitional Federal Government controls only parts of the capital and faces opposition from various rebel groups seeking to establish an Islamic state.

Mahiga, the former Tanzanian ambassador to the UN, succeeds Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah as the top UN official for Somalia, the scene of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with large sections of the population displaced and fighting continuing between Government forces and Islamist rebels.

Responding to a question, Mahiga said it was "far-fetched cynicism" to suggest that there will never be peace in Somalia.

"The underlying thing is that any conflict to be durably resolved has to pursue a peaceful path and I think this is how even the most protracted and complex conflicts in the world have at the end of the day been resolved peacefully -- peaceful resolution in an inclusive way rather than through violence."

However, Somalia's neighbour, Kenya has struggled to secure its borders against terrorist threats from neighboring country in recent years.

Terrorism is a constant threat along Kenya's border with Somalia and the east African nation has suffered a series of attacks, most recently in May, by al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group attempting to overthrow the Somali government.

Source: Xinhua


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