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Consolidating Peace In Somalia Still 'Not Easy', said the UN

Hiiraan Online
By Zahra Rashid
Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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The top United Nations official for Somalia has called for the need for uninterrupted international support for Somalia.

Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said that the support is set to advance the country which remains a state in need of support from the international community.

“For the first time in a generation, a safe, secure and prosperous Somalia at peace with itself and its neighbours seems more like a reasonable aspiration than a distant dream,” He also said that “the road to stabilization will not be easy. Somalia will need to re-invest comprehensively and generously if it is to capitalize on its massive investment of time and resources.”

In August Somalia marked a historic moment when the first non-transitional president of the federal government, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected and sworn into Parliament. This ended the Somali “transition” period which had begun with the 2004 launch of a UN-backed interim government after Somalis had been without a functioning government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

In his letter, Mr. Mahiga states that the New Year will be “full of promise and hope” for Somalia which has been facing long years of fighting and instability brought by  warlords, Islamist militants, and its neighbours who have been involved in its internal affairs.

“After several failed attempts to end of the Transition in Somalia, we succeeded this past year because the process was inclusive, transparent, legitimate, participatory and Somalia-owned,” the UN envoy said.

A series of Somali Government and AU offensives, as well as a Kenyan army incursion in 2011 resulted in the end of frontline combat involving the al-Shabaab Islamist militant group in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.  The militants have been dealt one heavy blow after the other, first losing their strategic stronghold Kismayo, and more recently vast portions of central and southern Somalia they formerly controlled.

“At the beginning of the year, my office and half of its staff relocated to Somalia and continued to work alongside key Somali partners in a variety of sectors,” Mr. Mahiga said in his year-end letter, in a reference to the move from UNPOS’ former office headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The centre of gravity has shifted to Mogadishu, and UNPOS (is) completing a major strategic review to ensure full alignment of its policies and programs with the goals and aims of the new government,” he added.

Mr. Mahiga said the mission is in the process increasing staff presence in the Somalia “by 100 per cent in the coming weeks,” as he called on other members of the international community “to come to Mogadishu.”

The Special Representative noted that, in the last year, UNPOS had “closely cooperated with key regional interlocutors to ensure a unified and coordinated approach on important political issues.”

According to Mr. Mahiga, initiatives included the establishment of a “joint framework” ensured “close collaboration on issues affecting the Somali peace process between the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – an eight-country regional body that aims to encourage cooperation between its member states.

“This harmonized international and regional response to challenges within Somalia played a critical role in enabling the international community to speak with one voice in support of the process,” Mr. Mahiga concluded.

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