By ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI
Sunday, April 15, 2012
In less than a month, traditional elders from all regions of Somalia will assemble in Mogadishu for a two-week constitutional conference with the aim of adopting a provisional constitution for the republic as we approach the end of the transition to permanent government.
The common goal is to end the anarchy of statelessness that has been the norm for two decades and introduce a new order built on the bonds of language, culture, and religion that unite us.
The hosting of the Constituent Assembly in our nation’s capital represents a significant milestone for the peace process in Somalia and will vindicate ongoing efforts by the Transitional Federal Government to secure a stable and prosperous Somalia, built on respect for traditional Somali culture, religious values and way of life.
A Somalia where citizens can go about their daily lives free from fear of the indignities of war and corruption, poverty and hunger.
We are progressively securing the people’s mandate and participation in this work. The implementation of the Political Roadmap we adopted eight months ago is on track.
Two National Consultative Constitutional Conferences have already been held in Garowe, where a cross-section of Somali politicians, civil society and traditional elders agreed to reform the current Mogadishu-centric system of government and establish an inclusive parliamentary democracy within a federal system that recognises the differing traditions and experiences of the regions.
There will therefore be no need for an extension of the transition process beyond August 2012.
However, ensuring that the progress achieved over the past year is sustained will require more than just a new constitution.
Expanding the zone of relative security that has been created in Mogadishu to the rest of the country remains one of our key priorities along with the creation of strong national and sub-national institutions to peacefully resolve conflict, encourage cooperation and establish the rule of law.
The security situation in the capital has improved considerably since the ousting of the Al-Shabaab terror group last August.
A recent article in the New York Times noted that the city is currently experiencing its longest sustained period of relative peace since the collapse of the state in 1991.
For the first time in many years, the markets and streets of our capital city are bustling with life and commerce; children play on its beaches and fields; and homes are being repaired.
Though terror attacks continue to be of particular concern, our security forces and police have managed to disrupt an estimated 70 per cent of terror plots.
None of this would have been possible without the help, courage and sacrifice of the men and women of the AU Mission in Somalia to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.
Under the banner of Amisom, countries in the region are helping us implement a three-year National Stabilisation and Security Plan hinged on liberating more areas from the destructive rule of the extremists while rebuilding the national security infrastructure including the national army and police force.
s more areas are liberated from the terrorists, the Transitional Federal Government will continue to take a leading role in establishing peace, fostering reconciliation and establishing the structures for democratic, accountable and efficient local and regional governance.
Engaging traditional leaders in this effort lends credibility to the process and, of course, individual strategies will be tailored to the specific needs of the different parts of South-Central Somalia.
We are already setting up peace committees in the regions and districts whose mandate will be to mediate resource based conflicts before they snowball into clan and civil wars, and to foster a culture of peace and dialogue in the various communities.
Such local processes will be tied in to the national process to ensure that they adhere to, enable and inform the principal national agreements and the constitutional process.
We have embarked on a series of reforms to generate strong public institutions to ensure the transparent management of public finances.
We are putting in place a sturdy framework of regulations to give teeth to these institutions.
To date, we have streamlined the revenue collection system and prepared our budget for 2012.
We have also revived the Bureau for Investigation of Corruption and we plan to turn it into a robust anti-corruption agency.
A Joint Financial Management Board will ensure public money is used in ways that generate social and economic dividends to all citizens.
After 20 years of continuous conflict, the country is literally overflowing with weapons and many young people have not known peace in their lifetime.
Our task is to create opportunities for the youth to make an honest living and that means providing education and revitalising the local and national economies to create the jobs and cross-clan trade linkages which will encourage inter-dependence and reduce the appeal of arms.
My government is working with all concerned to rebuild schools, harmonise curricula and introduce certification regimes.
We are also putting in place the legislative framework on which the national economy relies for the regulation of trade, enforcement of contract, protection of property and the harnessing of savings for investment.
Most recently, for example, we have in consultation with industry players, adopted light-handed regulations to govern and develop the vital and vibrant telecommunications sector which has flourished despite the chaos of the past two decades, but still suffers from the lack of policy direction and problems such as interconnectivity between different actors.
This law will go a long way towards expanding access to modern telecommunications, stimulating economic activity and creating avenues for employment.
These are undoubtedly small beginnings and we will need to do much more.
The reconstruction of the national infrastructure, rebuilding the transport networks of roads and bridges to connect producers to markets and ports, and creating a national grid to provide the electricity to power factories and light homes will require investment beyond our meagre means.
We greatly appreciate the help we have already received from our brothers and friends both on the continent and beyond.
With the continued support of the international community, we are confident that we will succeed in improving the lot of the people of Somalia.
Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is the Prime Minister of Somalia.