UN Security Council calls on Somalia to find lasting political solution to crisis

09:52, May 26, 2011      

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The United Nations (UN) Security Council ended its day-long meeting in Nairobi, Kenya late Wednesday by calling on Somalia's warring factions to find a lasting political solution to the longstanding political strife.

The UN Security Council representatives said that political bickering between Somalia's transitional government, interim parliament and various stakeholders which has undermined the momentum of the country's peace process "must stop."

"We set out as the UN Security Council a strong and united messages that fall down into three key messages, first thing is that they should stop infighting and unilateral extension of the transitional mandate," Mark Lyall Grant, British Ambassador to the UN and head of the mission told journalists in Nairobi.

Grant said secondly the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and other institutions should ensure unity and focus on the completion of the transitional tasks they committed themselves to, such as outreach reconciliation with various stakeholders and good governance.

He said the benchmarks include political outreach to political factions and Somalia's semi-autonomous regional administrations to cultivate dialogue and reconciliation, and the drafting of a new constitution for the Horn of Africa country, which has lacked a fully functioning national government and has been wracked by factional warfare since 1991.

"Thirdly, they should engage immediately and constructively with the UN Secretary-General Representative to Somalia and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) which have the full support of the UN Secretary General and the Security Council as facilitators," Grant said.

Somalia's transitional parliament voted in February to extend its term for another three years after the end of the transitional period, a move rejected by the TFG, which has instead proposed extending the interim period for one year, saying it wanted to try to enhance political stability and security.

Grant said the Security Council, which met Somalia's leadership and representatives from the African Union and IGAD including Kenyan leaders, also highlighted the opportunities for the forthcoming consultative meeting to be held next month in Mogadishu. "I made it clear that the international community as a whole expects that in that meeting there should be an agreement on the time of elections, roadmap, benchmarks and the way forward for the political settlement for Somalia," Grant said.

He said the UN top envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga will report back to the UN Security Council which will be monitoring the process closely.

According to Grant, the UN Security Council members paid tribute to the TFG forces whom with the support of the troops of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have improved security by making significant territorial gains against Al Shabaab insurgents in the capital Mogadishu, as well as in the central, western and southern areas.

"There is also the need to strengthen the Somali security forces, a comprehensive campaign against piracy. Piracy was one of the main focuses of our discussions with the leadership of Somalia, " Grant said.

He said the international community was very much concerned with instability in Somalia which has provided a safe haven for terrorists and pirates to operate freely, a development he said has threatened regional security.

More than a dozen national reconciliation conferences among warring factions from the 1990s to the present day have yet to generate a stable Somali government with standing and authority over the whole of the country.

Further complicating the situation is the continuing presence of AU forces, which have made significant territorial advances in Mogadishu and in the south of the country since 2007. "Our message was very clear that the Transitional Parliament should agree on tasks that are required to be completed before the end of the transitional period," South African Ambassador to the UN Baso Sangqu said.

He said the international community especially the UN Security Council expected various stakeholders to participate in the forthcoming reconciliation conference to be held in Mogadishu. "We told the Somali leadership that the meeting should chart the way forward in terms of elections, constitution and reconciliation, " Sangqu said after Security Council members met with Somali president, parliament speaker and the PM in Nairobi.

The Security Council commended the Kenyan government and the AU for their roles in supporting the reconciliation process, which was launched under the auspices of IGAD.

But regional analysts say getting the world to focus on the war- torn country is no easy task at a time when conflicts in a number of nations continually grab headlines.

But Grant warned that lack of worldwide focus on Somalia including donor support may soon change due to the current political divisions among the leaders. "I envisage a situation in which donor support is likely to change and this would depend on the action taken by the Somali leaders," Grant said.

An estimated 2.4 million people, or about a third of the country's population of 7.2 million, are in need of relief aid as a result of drought and two decades of conflict.

Source: Xinhua
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