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Politics & press news – Embassy 37

Envoys hail Somalia talks a success

Diplomats are cautiously optimistic that the recent conference on Somalia in London would succeed where others had failed because a “window of opportunity” had been created with an improved security situation on the ground.

Envoys praised the UK for taking the initiative, which attracted 55 delegates including heads of state from frontline states as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the Transitional Federal Government, the AU, IGAD, development partners, international institutions, diaspora organisations as well as Somali political forces outside the TFG.

Speaking to Embassy at the close of the conference, the Ambassador of Ethiopia, Mr Berhanu Kebede, said the international community had shown “more resolve” to bring about peace and stability.

“Military success registered against al-Shabaab is a major reason for the international community to move fast and make the best use of the conducive environment created,” he added.

Threat of terrorism
The announcement that al-Shabaab was throwing in its lot with al Qaeda also concentrated minds, added Ambassador Kebede. “The international community has clearly understood that if Somalia is left alone it will be a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism which is not only a danger to Somalia but to the region and the international community.”

Reports that young members of the Somali diaspora were being radicalised and trained in Somalia to bring terrorism to the streets of Europe and America was another reason for urgency.

“All European countries have a Somali diaspora and the terrorist risk radicalised youths pose to our security was brought home to us,” said one EU Ambassador.

In addition to a UN resolution to boost the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop numbers, other non-military measures to combat terrorism were discussed at the meeting, including a Financial Action Task Force to disrupt the terrorist finances.

Tackling piracy
Attending the conference was IMO Secretary General, Mr Koji Sekimizu, who pledged to “redouble” the efforts of the IMO in supporting the signatory states of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which acts to protect the shipping lanes along the coast of Somalia.

But he also added that the root causes for piracy lay on the land: “The Conference agreed that piracy cannot be solved by military means alone and reiterated the importance of supporting local communities to tackle the underlying causes of piracy and improving effective use of Somali coastal waters through regional maritime capacity-building measures.”

The conference also discussed ways to improve judicial capacity – including the creation of specialised courts dealing with piracy in Somalia itself so that pirates could be captured, prosecuted and detained.

Political arrangements
With the term of the Transitional Federal Institutions coming to an end in August, delegates said there should be no further extensions and that lack of clarity on future arrangements could derail the fragile gains made.

Plans were discussed to help Somalia convene a constituent assembly that would be representative of the views of the Somali people of all regions and constituencies, including women. 

“When all these factors are put together there is no reason why, this time, we should not succeed in securing peace in Somalia,” concluded Ambassador Kebede.

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Prime Minister David Cameron with TFG Prime Minister Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (left), UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (2nd right) and Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (right)

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