H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Nabil El Araby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to be with you today for this high-level meeting on Somalia. Today we meet to talk about peace and priorities for 2016 and beyond. Both items constitute a tall agenda! Lyndon Johnson said, ‘Peace is a journey of a thousand miles, and it must be taken one step at a time. Journeys consisting of one step after another require commitment, resilience and determination. We understand these kind of journeys very well in Somalia.
Almost three years ago, when we first met in London, we spoke of lofty goals; of course, we were full of ambition and courage. Today it is fair to say, we are all a little more battered and bruised, but we are battle weary and hardened and we have not lost the light of ambition, but we are anchored in reality.
Three years ago, when we first imagined Vision 2016 – the policy that captures Somalia’s political transformation goals – we set in motion a plan that was aggressively ambitious – rewriting a federal constitution to create a federal republic, with no fully-fledged governance infrastructure in place, and a lack of a legal framework to provide the basics of federalism, compounded with little human capacity, whilst fighting a terrorist group on its own soil! Today Somalis are about to begin consulting amongst ourselves to go through an electoral process that will provide a golden opportunity for Somalis to elect their own leaders for the first time in 47 years since the last election in 1969. This extraordinary achievement was realized in FOUR years in an extremely fragile and hostile situation.
For more than two decades, peace was a rare commodity in Somalia. Consider a man or woman – let’s call these Abdi and Fatima- who today are 25 or 26 years old in Somalia. Consider that Abdi and Fatima have never experienced relative stability in their entire life, let alone full-blown peace. Consider that Abdi and Fatima never went to school or any form of skills training, hence cannot find jobs. Most probably both are parents and are struggling to look after their children and are worrying and wondering what the future holds. For them, peace is not merely the absence of war. Hence, it must mean different things for them – an investment that makes life liveable: an investment that makes Somalia a better place to live.
Security is critical – obviously. We have seen enormous security improvements in the past two years, with 80% of Somalia liberated from al-Shabaab. We are very thankful for the African Union’s role in providing AMISOM forces in Somalia, and acknowledge the troop contributing countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda. We acknowledge the terrible tragedies resulted from securing Somalia. We grieve with our African brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate price, and respect their courage in the face of evil. We also acknowledge the United Nations, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and its member states and the Arab League and its member states who supported AMISOM and the Somalia National Army (SNA) to fufil their mandate.
There have been temporary set-backs in some places recently. Rather than indicating that al-Shabaab is on the rise, this speaks rather to a need for better coordination between our security forces and stabilisation programs. It speaks to the need to ensure that we can hold what we liberate, and the resourcing of the Somali National Army is vital in this regard. It also speaks to the need to remain invested in stabilisation initiatives.We must move quickly to support the recently established regional governments which will be the foundation for a fully-fledged federal republic of Somalia. We need to support these nascent administrations to clearly identify local priorities and ensure they are equipped and resourced enough to provide services to the local people emerging from prolonged conflict. This is marked as the end of ungoverned territories in Somalia, hence the end of the breeding ground for extremists and terrorists.
The federal government of Somalia is taking bold steps in towards building a more integrated accountable and transparent security sector. A sector that is subject to rigorous civilian oversight, operates transparently in recruitment, purchases, salaries and operations. A sector built on sound and enacted human rights principles as its driving force within the reform agenda we recently announced.
The process of troop integration, led by the National Integration Commission, is enormously encouraging. The purpose of course, is to create one national army, with one national identity and character, that is inclusive, and operates in the interest of all Somalis. To date the first 1,550 troops have been integrated in Jubba– meeting the Guulwade Plan objective. Notably, this is the first time there has been a Somali National Army presence in Jubba or in Kismayo since the fall of the Said Barre regime in 1991. In the next 12 months, the National Integration Commission will finalise integration in Jubba and work with Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest administrations to integrate more troops into the Somali National Army. I am enormously encouraged by the progress made, which I think indicates an admirable national consensus of intention across Somalia.
We must ensure that we do not rid Somalia of one evil, only to replace it with another. We must remain vigilant in regard to the potential for al Qaeda to boost al-Shabaab using the huge influx of refugees from Yemen as a decoy without depriving the rights of our sisters and brothers in Yemen who had to run away from difficult times in Somalia. We must be increasingly alert to the ever-growing ambitions of ISIL, Da’esh. A regionally coordinated approach is essential so that successful efforts in Somalia do not merely move al-Shabaab on and out, but eradicate them. Importantly, it will be essential for Somalia to tackle the causes of radicalization, be they local, national or regional in origin.
We must ensure that the fragile humanitarian situation in Somalia does not also contribute to our insecurity. Almost three million Somalis are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic daily needs. This is not acceptable anymore compared to the developments in development, security and political progress in Somalia.
We have already provided refuge to thousands of refugees from Yemen, and I thank the Somali people for their hospitality and generosity to our brothers and sisters in need. I remind our partners here today that they have a significant duty to discharge in helping the Federal Government to care for these people – both Somalis and Yemenis. Secure and committed funding is essential – not just for short-term humanitarian needs, but also to provide for a longer-term approach that addresses the underlying causes of protracted crisis and encourages resilience.
Key to ensuring that terrorist groups do not succeed in ever calling Somalia home again will be offering hope to people through the benefits that come with economic recovery. Jobs, employment, and the opportunity for private sector development is essential.
As you are all aware, infrastructure plays a catalytic role in the socio-economic development of a country. Improving Somali’s infrastructure requirements is critical for our economy, and also for the political and reconciliation process of Somalia. Infrastructure development stimulates private sector investment, boosting productivity, creating sustainable growth, expanding employment opportunities, reducing poverty. It also plays a crucial role in linking the centre with the regions.
Last year Somalia went through its first “health check” undertaken by the International Monetary Fund, or the IMF, for more than 25 years. We are very proud that the IMF pointed out the “country has made significant progress.”
The IMF also noted the improvement in Somalia’s economic condition, which is reported to have “improved significantly”, achieving growth of 3.7% in 2014. As the IMF report notes, “If the security improvements continue, the entrepreneurial private sector will continue to be the most dynamic contributor to economic growth.”
We have worked very hard to improve our financial and economic position. Our focus is on establishing a good governance track record, progressing key macroeconomic and fiscal structural reforms, and improving our accountability towards our citizens and creditors.
The Central Bank has worked hard to improve core transaction processes so that money is able to flow through to Ministries in support of their activities and staff.
Considerable progress has been made in strengthening our budget execution controls, with the Somali Financial Management Information System now live. We have set up the mechanisms that allow us to start oversight systems such as the Financial Governance Committee so that we can be confident that funds, contracts and procurement processes are being set up in a way that ensures transparency of process and results.
Underpinning all of this progress in security, stability, economic recovery is the importance of the concept of nationhood, of a Somalia that is representative and inclusive of all her citizens. This is essential if we are not only to invest in peace but make peace stick on the ground.
Building confidence in the state’s reach and remit is essential, and enabling the state to visibly fulfil its role in delivering services and programmes is part of this.
State leadership is an intrinsic part of Vision 2016 and while it is true that we may have been slower than we would have liked to set up the tools and processes that support the achievement of these goals- in particular in regard to the constitution- I am pleased that drafting of the revised constitution is imminent. Over the next year, I look forward to an organised national discussion, led by the Independent Constitution Review and Implementation Commission on how the constitution could more accurately reflect the current and anticipated functions of the state in relation to its citizens.
Federalism is crucial to our national stability and our national identity. During the past three years we have supported the formation of 3 interim regional administrations according to our constitution.
The effort is ongoing, with current discussions ongoing to realise the creation of the last interim regional administration for the Hiran and Middle Shabele regions. This is the last block – completing the federalised map of Somalia.
There are many issues we will continue to work on during the coming year, including establishing boundaries, the statutory duties of regional states, resource sharing and the states’ relationship with the federal government. The work of the Boundaries and Federation Commission will be essential in this respect.
It will be critical that the Commissions established are adequately resourced so they are able to fulfil their mandate. We must work quickly to establish the remaining constitutionally mandated bodies, especially the Human Rights Commission and the Constitutional Court of Somalia.
Of course, the lynch pin of our vision for 2016 is the transfer of political power next year- peacefully. The future of Somalia will only be secured through inclusivity, and equality of access to democracy and democratic principles.
Last week, the National Leadership Forum met in Mogadishu and approved the National Consultation Forum, and the process by which Somalia will determine the 2016 electoral process. What we discuss as a nation over the next three months must be in the interest of delivering us to a common destination: enhanced legitimacy through peaceful, democratic means.
We are committed to a broad and inclusive process that makes certain whatever outcome is decided is representative of Somali society today, and promotes the participation of women and minority groups. It must be transparent: people must have confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome, and the outcome must be able to be implemented nationwide with the resources we have available.
Importantly, the outcome must promote national unity. There will be room for discussion, but not dis-engagement. There will be room for perspectives, but not for politicking. There will be room for negotiation, but not for negativity.
The Somali people deserve success, not spoilers.
The seed of peace has taken root in Somalia and I have no doubt it will blossom into a tree whose branches shelter us all. There is a Somali proverb that says ‘The best bed that a man can sleep on is peace.’ I thank everyone who has come today for their commitment in helping us work towards making this a reality for every Somali. I thank you on behalf of Somalia for supporting the Federal Government and the people of Somalia in their pursuit of Somali-led and owned peace, stability, security, human rights, and development.