Africa In The News

Fresh chance for political engagement in Somalia

JOHANNESBURG, March 24 (ANA) – Noting that Somalia faces a number of “daunting difficulties” after decades of conflict, a senior United Nations official has highlighted that there is also a new momentum in the country for fresh political engagement amongst its people with the recent electoral process.

“The new government and parliament now have an opportunity to use the goodwill to reboot efforts to build a functional and inclusive Federal State,” Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia and the head of the UN Mission in the country (UNSOM), told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

The results of the electoral process, accepted as legitimate by all stakeholders, as well as a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, also made efforts to respond to the ongoing drought and the looming spectre of famine much easier, he noted.

“Somalis, including politicians, business people, civil society and members of the diaspora, are taking responsibility for the response, distinguishing Somalia from other countries facing humanitarian catastrophe,” added Keating.

In his briefing, the UN official pointed out that eliminating the scourge of terrorism in the country remained another pressing issue and said that a multi-pronged approach, embedded in a political strategy, was needed to degrade and dismantle the Al Shabaab militant group.

He also noted that building a trusted security apparatus that are acceptable to all Somalis is essential and added that doing so also offered a major opportunity to build and consolidate the Federal State.

“This needs to be approached as such, not just as a military undertaking,” he noted.

He also spoke about the need to advance the constitutional process and to strengthen conflict resolution efforts through the inclusion of all sections of society, including women, youth, minorities and business, in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Work was also need to improve the human rights situation in the country, said Keating.

“I am particularly concerned about attacks on journalists and the increase in sexual violence against internally-displaced women and members of minority clans,” he said, underlining the need to strengthen the human rights protection capacity in the country as well as fully implementing the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

Concluding his briefing, Keating urged the 15-member Security Council to continue to support the Somalia’s new leadership, new president, and new prime minister, to address the challenges the country is confronting.

The UN Security Council on Thursday also unanimously adopted a resolution in which it extended the UNSOM’s mandate until 16 June 2017.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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