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Somalis express cautious hope about London Conference

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon [left] and other ministers arrive at a rally in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia. The rally was in support of the International Conference on Somalia that kicked off in the British capital London on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

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As the last of Somalia’s delegations left the country for London to attend the International conference in the British capital, residents of the capital Mogadishu expressed hope about the outcome of the talks that will kick off on Monday.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and a delegation comprising cabinet ministers, lawmakers and senior government advisers left Saturday. President Hassan will co-chair the conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

London Conference will focus on assessing the needs of the Somali government and supporting it in the reform of the country’s security apparatus, the judiciary, reconstruction and investment in the Somali economy, said Somalia’s foreign Minister Fawzia Haji Yusuf.

Many express the hope that the talks in the British capital will lead in the political reconciliation between the central Somali government and northwestern regions, known as Somaliland, which proclaimed unilateral independence from the rest of the country back in 1991.

“For me the London Conference is a victory for Somalia. The conference could bring the North to talk with the government and work towards unity which is a positive outcome.” Hassan Hashi Mohamed, a Mogadishu resident told Xinhua.

The talks in London Conference, to be attended by 50 countries and international organizations, is the second of its kind to be held in UK for Somalia. The first was in 2012 which herald the end of the twelve year transitional period and led to the establishment of a permanent government for the country.

The main objective of the conference, said the British foreign office, is “to provide international support for the Federal Government’s plans” for developing the country’s armed forces, police, justice sector, and public financial management systems.

Siid Omar, a student in Mogadishu, said the top priority for Somalis is to see the government given support in maintaining security for the people.

“We welcome the London Conference and we hope it will bring together the estranged people of Somalia to work together in securing the country. That is the priority and the most important outcome” Siid Omar told Xinhua.

The talks is also expected to encourage dialogue between Somalia’s central government and the breakaway republic of Somaliland which said it will not attend the talks in London.

Somaliland is not recognized by any country but the region has established a functioning political and economic system and has a separate army, police, national flag and currency.

Mohamed Mohamoud, a resident in Mogadishu said he hopes talks between the Somali government and Somaliland leaders would pave the way for unity between the two sides.

“As far as I am concerned I believe the conference in London is an important one which we welcome and I hope it will facilitate talks between the North and Somali government and will lead to a unity between the Somali brothers,” he said.


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