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Somali leaders must work together - envoy
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (L) when he received diplomatic credentials from Britain's ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh at the presidential palace in Mogadishu on February 2, 2012. PHOTO|AFP|FILE
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (L) when he received diplomatic credentials from Britain's ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh at the presidential palace in Mogadishu on February 2, 2012. PHOTO|AFP|FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Daily Nation
Friday, June 14, 2013

Somalis must be ready to compromise on political issues if the country’s fledgling peace is to be maintained, an envoy has said.

Outgoing British Ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh said the international community would support the war-torn country to stability, but it is up to Somalis themselves to rebuild their country.

“It is now down to all Somalis and their leaders wherever they might be to work together. The pride of greater stability in their country is greater than anything else,” Mr Baugh told the Nation in Nairobi on Thursday.

Jubaland crisis in Kismayu

Responding to a question on the nature of Jubaland crisis in Kismayu, Mr Baugh stated that every Somali leader must be ready to give and take for the good of Somalia, rather than for personal interests.

“They need to cooperate; they need to collaborate, they going to need to compromise. The going to have to work together,” he said.

In the past ten days, deadly violence between the Ras Kamboni Brigade (RKB) and militiamen loyal to Iftin Basto, who laid claim on the contested Jubaland presidency, has seen several people dead and dozens wounded.

New parliament and president elected

This has been seen as a further drawback to Somalia’s peace process which last year saw a new parliament and president elected.

Somalia’s security status has greatly improved through efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), whose forces managed to drive al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu.

In an opinion article in the Daily Nation on Thursday, Horn of Africa specialist Rashid Abdi noted that the new fighting would cause a further burden to Amisom to which Kenya Defence Forces are part. (READ: The way out of a crisis in Jubaland)

“The KDF/Amisom troops in Kismayu are now faced with the unwelcome prospect, not to say additional strain, of policing their allies, over and above the routine military task of keeping up the pressure on Al-Shabaab and ensuring the militant group does not stage a come-back,” Mr Rashid argued.

UN call for restraint

On Thursday, the UN Security Council through its President Mark Lyall Grant of UK expressed their “concern for the deterioration” of the situation in Jubaland.

“The members of the Security Council called on all parties to refrain from any action which may threaten peace and stability in the Juba regions,” the Council said adding that parties should instead engage the federal government led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.

The Council vowed to support the federal system in Somalia and the Provisional Constitution passed last year in October.

However, Mr Baugh argued that while we still need Amisom to help stabilise Somalia, much more should be done to ensure the country can work properly on its own.

“I am not sure at this stage it is either Amisom or Somali security agents we need most. I think it is both. Right now, we still need Amisom, but we also we need to bring together a Somali security which is capable and that is more effective.

“I was in Mogadishu and what I saw are a people reclaiming the streets. But to protect those streets, we need a capable police force that people would run to not away from.”

Threat from al-Shabaab

Amisom which is a UN sanctioned mission had its mandate extended for another year in March this year through UN Security Council resolution 2093 to help keep at bay the threat posed by Somalia militia group al-Shabaab.

The UK is one of the Council permanent members. In April, the British government reopened fully-fledged embassy in Mogadishu after its closure in 1991 when Somalia disintegrated.

Before April, the UK related with Somalia through its mission in Nairobi. Although there has been relative peace for the past one year, Mr Baugh said security is still vital.

Ordinary Somalis need basic services

“I think security is paramount. We need to see Amisom and its security forces continue to push back al-Shabaab and allow people to reclaim their lives. Security is the precursor to everything that Somalia was and can become again.”

“We need to help the government to stand on its two feet. To increase its revenue, to increase its tax base, to reduce corruption which has been endemic across the country historically. We need to make sure that ordinary Somalis get the basic services that you and I need.”

Mr Baugh who has served in Somalia for three years was speaking after the celebrations to mark this year’s birthday for Queen Elizabeth II, at the UK High Commission in Nairobi.


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