Somalia: UN Deputy Chief Urges International Support for Reform Efforts

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DS-General Jan EliassonSomalilandsun – A senior United Nations (UN) official today stressed the need for widespread support from the international community for the new Somali Government to help it succeed in its reform efforts.

The Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said some the biggest challenges for Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud are to assert his authority across the entire country and to grow relations with its neighbouring countries.

Eliasson told reporters during a briefing on his recent trip to the Somalia Conference in London earlier this week that although it wasn’t an event to raise funds, three hundred million dollars were pledged for the security sector, but most of all the Conference was “a show of support in the efforts of the President and his government to create a well functioning federal state.”

The conference, co-hosted by President Mohamud and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, took place during what participants called in the final communiqué that capped the event, “a pivotal moment” for Somalia, as it rebuilds from two decades of factional fighting that followed the 1991 ousting of President Siad Barre. The event also raised some $300 million for Somalia’s security sector.

In 2011, Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents retreated from Mogadishu, and last year, new Government institutions emerged, as the country ended a transitional phase towards setting up a permanent, democratically-elected Government.

Eliasson said the conference was a show of solidarity and support of the new leadership in Somalia, but noted absence of the delegations of the regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

He said “Somaliland decided not to join the delegation. They were asked by the President to join, and given all the good reasons to join but they have ambitions that go beyond autonomy, that go beyond a taking part of a federal structure. And in the case of Puntland there were high hopes that they would join, because Puntland, actually as I understood has accepted to be part of the federal structure with probably advanced autonomy I suppose, but they also decided to stay away and this was openly stated by the Somalis, regretted by most.”

Responding to whether Ethiopia would withdraw its troops from the country Eliasson said that in his talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, he “did not accept that the word “withdrawal” would be used. He felt that they would take their responsibility and that they would stay as long as needed.”

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