By Dr. Ali Said Faqi
Friday, May 11, 2018
The Prime Minister of Somalia was recently in Belgium to co-chair a High Level Security Meeting for Somalia which was organized by the European External Action Services (EEAS). The meeting which was attended by the members of the international community, UN, EU and troop contributing countries has been very successful. The PM has eloquently delivered a realistic message about Somalia, a message that was highly echoed in Brussels. At his various multilateral and bilateral meetings, the PM emphasized that he and the President are committed to change the current narrative of Somalia. He said that Somalia is not how it is portrayed and we want to make sure such narrative is changed with tangible actions in the ground. He powerfully addressed the challenges facing the nation and pointed out that with the genuine international support and political will from our side, many of these challenges will soon be remembered as things of the past.
He highlighted his government’s ambitious agenda, explicitly building the national army, ensuring peace and security, strengthening law and order, reforming the justice system, reviewing the constitution, providing government services and enhancing economic development.
Somalia with all the political, economic and security challenges is slowly, but steadily moving forward in the right direction, and we are grasping this wind of opportunity to fix our nation said the PM.
On the Somali National Army, the PM said the goal is to accelerate the building of an army that can protect our boarders and assure peace inside the country. The Federal government is working with federal member states to build a consensus and resolve any political issues that may impede the formation of an inclusive national army. On April 16, 2017, an agreement between the Federal Government and Federal Member States calls for the integration of regional and federal forces into a coherent National Security Architecture capable of gradually taking responsibility for providing security. The government is in the process of establishing Somali-led security institutions and forces that are affordable, acceptable and accountable and have the ability to provide the security and protection that the people of Somalia deserve, said the Premier Minister.
At the High Level Security Meeting in Brussels, the international community endorsed a realistic conditions based transition plan presented by the government that will enable Somalia to assume full responsibility of its own security. The well-crafted plan for transition lays out the foundation for activities over the coming months and years and sets the strategy, priorities, milestones, and conditions with key indicators, starting with the transfer of security responsibilities but including stabilization and state-building activities as well as military, police and justice plan, in order to ensure a lasting peace.
The PM stated that his government is leading the implementation of the National Stabilization Strategy and fully committed to tackle the underlying drivers of conflict and set the conditions for economic growth.
Equally, the premier emphasized that peace and security as being in the priority list of his government’s agenda. He said, Al-Shabab, albeit weak, but still poses a threat to the stability of the country. It is a criminal organization whose main ideology is to terrorize, kill and weaken the institutions. It rejects the principles and values that guarantee a peaceful society as they use violence, terror and coercion as means to thrive.
He underlined that his government has adapted a two tailed-approach to defeat Al-Shabab. First we have extended amnesty to the youngsters and Al-Shabab leaders who are disillusioned by the group’s ideology and are seeking for a way out. It is a carrot and stick approach; meaning that those who leave the organization will be pardoned and receive extra perks including vocational training and job opportunities, so they can maintain their families and be good citizens declared the PM. The second approach is to continue fighting them. To defeat Alshabab, the government is working on achieving that Somali forces are trained under a common doctrine; be better equipped, better housed, and better coordinated.
On financial reform, my government continued its policy commitment to the SMP, enhanced the fiscal framework, including improving domestic revenue mobilization and strengthening public financial management, the PM said. The government has taken steps to reform the national currency, developing the country’s financial sector. He said, we made progress on addressing significant shortcomings in economic data, and making efforts to develop coherent social programs and fight corruption. The PM echoed that his government expects to see arrears clearance soon with debt relief to follow in the near future.
Economic growth in Somalia will require us to create the conditions that allow young people to have jobs. The PM highlighted that his government wants to develop strategies to exploit the extraordinary power of youth inventiveness and enthusiasm to generate economic growth and employment. It is the only way forward to curb the youth crisis in our country; rather than being a burden, the youth can become a demographic gift affirmed the PM.
He stressed out that Somalia is aiming at exploiting its abundant natural resources to mobilize enough revenue to finance its depilated infrastructure and create jobs.
Education plays a key role for the development of a nation. The premier said that his administration wants to ensure that our students have access on quality early childhood, primary and secondary educations and increase opportunities for vocational and higher education.
In addition, the government is embarked to reforming the justice system in Somalia. The PM specified that the goal is to achieve equal justice for all regardless of the person’s social status. The government is implementing Anti-corruption laws and introducing measures to guarantee transparency and accountability.
Moreover, the PM has reinvigorated that Somalia has embraced multi-party politics thanks to the number of political parties registered recently by the electorate commission. The president and I are committed to lead Somalia into one person one vote election by the end of our term in early 2021.
The PM has also talked about climate change as being real and having serious ramifications in the horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia. Recurrent droughts and flooding seem to happen often in our country; a situation that is aggravated by the interaction of ‘multiple stresses’, including high dependence on rain-fed agriculture, deforestation, widespread poverty and weak adaptive capacity. Just few days ago, the PM said over 100,000 people has been displaced in the town of Beledweyne of Hiiraan region by floods after River Shabelle broke its banks, causing a national calamity. The PM hinted that this could even deteriorate and effect many parts of Somalia as the rainy season just began. The growing threats of the climate crisis pose considerable risks to our future development, thus increasing poverty and inequality.
To mitigate climate shocks my government he said has initiated policies to promote investments on renewable energy, particularly on solar and wind energy. Somalia is rich in energy resources including many promising wind sites, and abundant sunshine, which can produce clean energy. Somalia, which enjoys over 310 sunny days and almost 3,000 hours of sunshine yearly, makes it an ideal environment for generating clean energy through solar system. Similarly, Somalia is particularly suitable for off-shore wind power as well.
Overall, the PM’s debut in Brussels was a unique opportunity as he managed to reveal eloquently the successful path he and President Farmajo have embarked to lead the country, i.e., changing the status quo to a peaceful, prosperous and stabile Somalia.
Dr. Ali Said Faqi is Somali Ambassador to the Benelux and the European Union. He can be reached at [email protected]