DAILY ETHIOPIA , News paper.
The London Conference on Somalia is being held on Thursday next week, February 23rd. Chaired by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, over fifty delegations are expected. In addition to members of the international community and frontline states, there will be representatives from the TFIs, of the Puntland and Galmudug administrations, of Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, and from Somaliland.
Last week, the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, following his own visit to Mogadishu, laid out the UK’s aims for the Conference including the need for a better international strategy to address Somalia’s problems and help its people. He described a more stable Somalia as vital to the UK’s national security, essential for the stability for the Horn of Africa and long overdue. He mentioned terrorism and piracy and the importance of trying “to change the dynamic from one of inexorable decline to an upwards trajectory of gradually increasing stability and security.” He outlined why he felt the time was ripe for a major effort. One reason was the improved security situation in Mogadishu; another was the need to intensify the pressure on Al-Shabaab and also build on the progress made in diminishing pirate activity; and thirdly with the expiry of the TFG mandate in August there was an opportunity to create a broader and more representative political arrangement.
Mr. Hague has made it clear he hopes the Conference will agree practical measures in a number of different areas. These include an expanded political process; regular and sustainable funding for AMISOM forces; a coordinated international package of support for Somali regions to complement peace and stability at the national level; concerted efforts to break the piracy business cycle; agree the areas to develop to disrupt terrorism across the region including stopping movement of terrorists and disrupting their finances as well as delivering effective intelligence gathering; and highlight the need for generous humanitarian responses. He also stressed that he wanted the Conference to be the start of a process not the end and to agree on how to handle Somali issues in the future with a revitalized International Contract group and more countries deploying diplomats and staff into Somalia. Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli said in an interview with AFP earlier this week that Somalia hoped for a lot from this conference: “We expect the establishment of a trust fund for Somalia. We expect a complete reconstruction plan for Somalia. We expect a Marshall Plan for Somalia.”
The second consultative meeting of the core group for the Conference met last Friday, February 10th, at Lancaster House in London. Representatives from the African Union, Ethiopia, the European Union, France, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations and the United States considered the proposed draft communiqué. It contains several sections, in addition to an introduction and a conclusion, covering the humanitarian situation, the political process, security and justice, piracy, counter-terrorism, stability and recovery, the diaspora and international coordination.
Delegates discussed the draft communiqué paragraph-by-paragraph with particular emphasis on the political process during the post-transition period after August. Among the points raised were the need to create united international support; for accountability and transparency in the administration of funds; for Somalis to assume a central role in the peace process; enhanced international efforts to assist the speedy implementation of the political process; a call for the Istanbul Conference in June to come up with concrete proposals on the humanitarian situation; the need to deal with corruption and to take strong action against individuals and institutions bent on derailing the political process.
Participants at the consultative meeting also stressed the Conference was about crystallizing the existing Djibouti process, not creating a new initiative. They took note of the importance of providing access to print and electronic media to allow moderate elements to reach out to the Somali public. They emphasised the pivotal role of IGAD and the frontline states on political and security consolidation in Somalia as well as the importance of longer term development programmes with regional impact.They stressed the need to address the genesis of piracy and take a comprehensive course of action on land and at sea. They raised the importance of tailor-made training and capacity building programmes to enhance the TFIs. They emphasised the need to understand clearly the impact of terrorism and all its manifestations in Somalia, in the region and for the international community at large. They expressed their view on affirming the territorial integrity of Somalia and on the system of government and the constitution of Somalia after the TFG. The meeting also discussed the expected conclusions of the conference and what the conference might deliver. It considered possible annexes and identified countries and organisations to make keynote speeches.
The Ethiopian delegation led by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the UK, Ambassador Berhanu Kebede, reflected the position of IGAD as well as Ethiopia at the meeting. It underlined the need to take strong concerted action against Al-Shabaab, now openly affiliated to Al Qaeda and stressed the key role to be played by frontline states, IGAD and the AU in the political and security process. It emphasised the need to support the authorization of additional AMISOM troops and the expeditious delivery of all required equipment, force enablers and multipliers, as well as give due credit to forces of local administrations, Ahlu Sunna and neighbouring countries. It suggested putting in place an incentive package for those who accept the Djibouti Agreement, the Kampala Accord, the Roadmap and the Garowe Principles, and taking strong measures against those trying to derail the peace effort and called on the Istanbul Conference in June to produce strong proposals in this regard.
The Ethiopian delegation also underlined the need to enhance international efforts to stop illegal inflows of small arms and light weapons into Somalia, calling on the UN Security Council to take concrete action against those involved. It emphasized the importance of supporting Somalia to build and develop strong institutions of governance and human rights accountable to the Somali parliament. It underlined the need to make training coherent and well-coordinated and for it to be demand driven and provided inside Somalia so it can respond to the reality on the ground. It noted the problems faced by neighbouring countries in hosting refugees from Somalia, and stressed that winning the hearts and minds of the people of Somalia was critical for the fight against terrorism.
Source: DAILY ETHIOPIASHARE