July 2, 2012
And so off to Rome, for the 22nd meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia, where together with colleagues from London and the British Office for Somalia, we will join the UK delegation headed by our Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham MP.
The ICG is the latest – and last – in a series of international meetings this year before the end of the Transition in August. It’s an important opportunity for the members of the international community to join their Somali counterparts in reviewing progress on the political process. It is also an important opportunity for us to reiterate our collective determination and commitment to ensure that the Transition ends in seven weeks’ time in accordance with the conclusions reached at both the London and Istanbul Conferences.
More importantly, it’s an opportunity to ensure that the Transition ends in accordance with the agreements reached through the Roadmap and the Garowe process. And it’s an opportunity for Somalia’s leaders to restate their commitment to end the Transition: transparently, accountably and legitimately.
It’s vital they do. Just over a week ago in Nairobi, the various Roadmap Signatories agreed on a final draft of a provisional constitution, which will go the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) later this month. While this progress is welcome, as I said at the meeting in Nairobi: there is still much to do. The Signatories need to stick to their latest – and agreed – timetable for delivery, including opening the NCA on 12 July, selection of new MPs on 15 July and election of the Speaker and Deputies on 4 August, before the election of a new President on 20 August.
In theory, the path to the end of the Transition is now clear. In theory, it should be pretty straightforward.
The practice, though, may be a little harder. But with the right resolve, it is still possible. The UK, together with our international partners, is fully prepared to provide ongoing support – financial, political, technical. But only if that support is matched by political will.
So it is necessary that the Signatories now show the leadership and commitment that we all expect of them. By working together, by recognising that this is the best chance Somalia has had in over two decades to begin the path to greater stability – that chance can be seized.
Commitments from Somalia’s leaders to greater consultation, to political accountability and to financial transparency are now essential. They are commitments we want; most importantly, they are commitments the Somali people expect. Put simply, it’s time the Somali public were consulted on the draft Constitution; it’s time that the millions of dollars that Somalia’s leaders have access to we’re used for Somalia’s benefit – to help pay for Somalia’s security and its recovery.
Progress is being made – just look at what is happening – in Afgooye, in Beletweyne, in Baidoa. Security is slowing beginning to return to areas once dominated by Al Shabaab. TFG forces, in close co-operation with AMISOM, are slowly winning the battle against Somalia’s enemies. But winning the battle is one thing; winning the peace is another. That’s why helping those communities that have come under legitimate government authority is so important: peace-building, establishing safety and security, supporting the delivery of basic services. It’s why the UK and others are committed to ensuring those communities get the help and support they deserve, provided they are prepared to work with legitimate authorities. It’s why we are committed to securing greater financial transparency.
Getting this far has taken commitment. Going further – ending the Transition credibly and legitimately – will take leadership, will and commitment.
As I write this, it is Somalia’s Independence Day. As we start to gather in Rome, it’s time for Somalia’s leaders to commit to Somalia’s future and to the sort of Somalia its people wants. The opportunity for a brighter future is there. The opportunity to begin the long process of recovery is within grasp. They should take it.
As ever, I’d value your thoughts. What do you want from the Signatories at this stage? How can the process be made as transparent and accountable as possible? Ending the Transition is one thing. What succeeds it, is another. As ever, your comments are welcome.