Thursday, April 21, 2016

Somalia: Somali President Briefing for the UN Security Council
President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud

There has been a tragedy in the waters unfolding on the Mediterranean Sea, that many believed to be people from my country and neighboring countries.

If all the reports are confirmed, this may be the worst tragedy since the migration crisis.

We must make every effort to recover the bodies those we perished and care for those we survived. I acknowledge the efforts made by many nations to safeguard and care for migrants and refugees escaping their home nations because of the misfortune of insecurity and hopelessness.

We request from the governments in the region and others who have capacity to investigate the crimes that have been committed in order to lure these young people to unsafe journeys across the oceans.

The pain, misery and misfortune of illegal migration and its painful physical and mental cost for all concerned will only end when we have peace, stability and real inclusive economic development in source countries.

Let me thank the Council for its long-standing support for peace, stability and development in Somalia.

It is almost four years since the appointment of my government. Four years since Somalia emerged from two decades of war, two decades without a functioning government in place, two decades without schools, hospitals or any form of public service.

In Brussels in late 2013, I made a pledge on behalf of Somalia to pursue peace and prosperity. This pledge had been central to my original Six Pillar Policy which provided a foundation for the subsequent New Deal Compact for Somalia.

At the heart of my Brussels pledge lay the pursuit of three imperative items: a secure Somalia, a democratic Somalia and a progressive and prosperous Somalia.

In 2013, the Somali Government agreed to pursue the political transformation of the nation by drafting and agreeing a Federal Constitution, adopting a federal model of governance and holding democratic nation-wide elections by September 2016.

We laid out this ambitious agenda knowing that we faced the enormous challenge of trying to transform Somalia politically, whilst fighting a war against terror on our own soil, and without any robust or capacitated instruments of state.

When we first laid out these historic plans Somalia had limited functioning Ministries and human resources, limited domestic revenue streams to speak of, and no domestic planning or management capacity to drive forward and sustain the desired reforms.

Side by side with the necessary political transformation, we needed to build a secure Somalia. Our national armed forces were decimated.

Our soldiers, our police, our security personnel had no formal training, no capacity building, and no payment for almost 22 years. Al Shabaab had emerged from the conflict, taking advantage of a non-existent state, and began its terror campaign in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

Security must provide the conditions for development to flourish. And Somalia needed development desperately.

We had lost two generations of people who had not ever been able to go to school. There were no jobs, no public services and very little hope.

Mr. President-

Somalia has lived a lifetime in the last four years. Our transformation has been rapid and despite all the challenges, Somalia has made extraordinary progress we are proud of and which ought to make our partners proud too.

With the end of the constitutionally-mandated terms of the Federal Government and Parliament, the latter half of 2016 will be a decisive year for Somalia.

Last week we successfully agreed the implementation roadmap for the 2016 electoral process. This means we are on track to undergo the historic first democratic electoral process in 47 years in Somalia.

I will not go into all the details of the 2016 election, however let me draw attention to several important facts:

1) The process will be uniform across Somalia to ensure national legitimacy

2) A dispute resolution process will support the elections to ensure that we are able to respond to any concerns and immediately address them.

3) A Lower and Upper House will be elected.

4) 30% of the seats in the electoral process and emerging 9th parliament Federal Member will be identified and specially reserved for women.

In 2012, when my government was elected, just 135 elders were involved in the selection of our Members of Parliament. In 2016, whilst elders will still play a pivotal role, an electoral college of almost 14,000 people will ultimately make the decision about who will represent the nation. This is great progress.

We are committed to ensuring there are no impediments to the timely implementation of the electoral process, including freedom of expression, nor any extension of the constitutionally-mandated term limits of the legislature and executive.

This year's electoral process takes us one step closer to universal suffrage. We recognize the importance of a clear political vision and path and have engaged in twin-track planning in support of one-person one-vote elections supported by a capable National Independent Electoral Commission by 2020.

Somalia's Federal Constitution sets out the foundation for peaceful politics in Somalia, and we are pushing ahead to complete the review of priority chapters of the Provisional Federal Constitution by the end of 2016. Nationwide consultations with Somalis in all federal and emerging states will be essential to ensure broad-based consensus and ownership. This, our Government is genuinely committed to and strongly believes in its value.

We have, in the last three years, successfully established 3 out of the 4 federal member states. We are working hard to complete the state formation process in Hiraan and Middle Shabelle and reach agreement on clarification of the status of Benadir.

Whilst substantial progress has been made on the security front with almost 80% of the country liberated from al-Shabaab, we acknowledge with great sadness and frustration that the security environment at present is an inhibiting factor for the development of both governing institutions and the Somali population. Furthermore, the current security environment remains a root cause for the significant humanitarian situation and the continuing assistance requirements in Somalia.

Mr. President-

I wish to recognize and commend the valiant efforts of the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM in the fight against al-Shabaab.

This fight is not over. We cannot and will not quit before it is successfully completed. Further, resources and commitment are needed now more than ever to chop off the head of the venomous snake of terror once and for all.

We strongly reiterate the need for international support for reinvigorated AMISOM and SNA operations. The February Djibouti Agreement was unequivocal in that partners must continue to provide sustainable funding for both AMISOM and the SNA forces to fulfil their mandates. The Agreement was also clear on the urgent need for a structural overhaul of how AMISOM is commanded. We must be confident that a central control and command structure will be put in place to support a coordinated and successful offensive in the near future.

My government has been working hard to strengthen the capacity and accountability of Somali security institutions across the country so that we are ready to assume control of our own security and release AMISOM from its commitment.

We are in the process of developing financially sustainable plans for the army (Gulwaade) and police (Heegan) under a national security architecture which is informed by the Public Expenditure Review conducted by the World Bank and the UN.

Articulating and agreeing on the state structures that will oversee the development of our security services has been the focus of my Government for the past few months. I am very pleased that the draft National Security Policy, endorsed by the National Security Council, is scheduled to be discussed through consultative meetings in each regional member states capital.

The first meeting will commence next week with a culminating national forum scheduled for mid-May. This includes a reinvigoration of the National Security Council to include regional representation at the highest level.

The National Threat Assessment has been completed, and the National Security Architecture planning is underway; its completion is predicated on the completion of the National Security Policy that outlines guiding principles on federal and regional security related institutions roles and missions.

Mr. President -

International support to the Somali security sector is essential. My government has taken steps to ensure increased transparency and security sector reform including enhanced monitoring systems, the registration of all personnel and their regular payment.

We are pushing ahead with national force integration. The National Integration Commission (NIC) has integrated four SNA battalions in the Jubbaland region and one headquarter company of female soldiers.

I am pleased to report elements of the newly integrated battalions have conducted joint operations with Danab forces in coordination with AMISOM.

Two more battalions are in the pipeline for integration by July in Jubbaland and, thanks to the recently approved UN support package to Puntland, the National Integration Commission (NIC) is scheduled to start engagement for the integration of 3000 Puntland soldiers within the next month.

However, we cannot ignore what would make the most rapid and greatest impact to the development of Somalia's own forces. That is the lifting of the UN arms embargo.

We have made solid improvements in Weapons and Ammunition Management and compliance with notification, reporting and controls.

In the last 6 months, we have marked over 4,500 weapons, established a Weapon and Ammunition Technical Working Group and agreed upon the terms of reference for the Joint Verification Team.

We have held consultative meetings to initiate the design of a roadmap to develop a comprehensive national framework governing the full lifecycle of weapons and ammunition and made significant improvements in complying with arms notification requirements.

Despite this improvement and the calls of the different UNSC Resolutions to our international partners to provide non lethal weapons to Somalia, we are still hindered by the partial embargo.

We therefore request, Mr. President and members of the Security Council- the total lifting of the arms embargo for Somalia.

This will enhance our national capabilities to confront and defeat international terrorism at home and provide the best protection for our citizens while safeguarding our democratic and developmental future against violent and radicalized spoilers.

The arms embargo, and indeed the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group, were put in place for good reasons, but Somalia has changed dramatically and these instruments are outdated and restrictive at best and misleading and undermining at worst.

Today the threat in Somalia is not so much lack of institutional capacity or oversight mechanisms but terrorism and violent extremism. Let us focus on mechanisms that deal effectively with these disastrous and international phenomena's.

If Somalia is to successfully defeat al-Shabaab once and for all AND effectively rebuild an inclusive nation then its effort must be supported through all possible means by the Security Council.

We therefore request, once again, for the complete lifting of the arms embargo, and the review of the mandate of the SEMG. This review should happen in light of the regenerated political, security, economic and financial progress made by my government towards the peace and stability of the Somalia.

The outcome of the review should reflect and understand that Somalia is no longer at war with itself but Somalis are fighting alongside all concerned member States to make our world a safer place for all.

Somalia's progress is illustrated clearly in the area of Public Financial Management reform. Today, Somalia has a working Central Bank, overseen by a functioning Board of Directors. The offices of the Accountant General and Independent Office of the Auditor General are functioning.

Furthermore, the internationally recognized Financial Governance Committee is in place, reporting regularly and publicly and represented by members from the international financial institutions including the World Bank, IMF and AFDB.

In parallel to robust governance and oversight progress, the Public Financial Management legislative environment is also being developed. Three Bills have been recently rectified by the Federal Parliament.

These are (i) Public Procurement, Concession and Disposal Bill, (ii) the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) & Combating the Financing of Terrorism CFT Bill, and (iii) Audit Bill. The Public Finance Management Bill has been approved by the Cabinet.

I draw the Council's attention to the significance of Somalia's first Article IV consultation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 25 years. The consultation confirmed Somalia's 2015 economic growth as 3.7%. This is clear evidence that the Somalia is on an aggressive path of reform.

Somalia has agreed with the IMF a reform program for the period of May 2016-April 2017 that focuses on implementing prudent fiscal policies while strengthening institutional capacity for macroeconomic financial management.

The program will enhance governance and economic statistical capacity, strengthen fiscal discipline, rebuild capacity for monetary policy management, and foster financial sector development as a basis for supporting economic growth. It will be a key step in the process of liquidation of arrears and the normalization of relations with the international financial institutions as a whole.

Mr. President-

These achievements clearly demonstrate that the Federal Government has developed both the capacity and the proper oversight mechanisms to handle public finances responsibly, transparently and in accordance with international best practice.

In addition, I launched The Open Government initiative in February 2016 to ensure that information relevant to government activities is made available to the public in order to promote transparency, accountability and participation.

Of course, systems are not the only thing that Somalia needs. I draw the Council's attention to the urgent need to develop key economic sectors that will provide all Somalis with greater opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

I welcome the international community's efforts to expand support for high priority economic sectors and youth employment, including through vocational training. We encourage support for regional economic initiatives, especially for infrastructure development, as they will be essential for regional economic growth and cooperation.

I cannot urge strongly enough the need for a comprehensive approach to equipping Somali youth with tools that will enable them to play a positive role in bringing peace, social progress and economic prosperity to Somalia. In that regard, in line with the Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, we welcome the development of the National Youth Policy and the UN Youth Strategy for Somalia.

Mr. President -

2016 marks the final year of the Somali Compact. The Compact has played a crucial role in improving the partnership and mutual accountability between the government and international community and furthering political, security and development progress in Somalia.

We look forward to developing the next phase of international engagement in Somalia based on a shared set of principles and a renewal of the joint partnership.

Work is now progressing on a three-year National Development Plan, which will include political and security elements so that the holistic approach forged through the Somali Compact is not lost.

Principles that guide the partnership between the government and international community after the end of the Compact will be developed and agreed in the coming months.

Programs and resources must be further aligned to Somalia's national priorities. In particular, concrete steps must be taken to deliver more assistance through country systems, in response to improvements made to the government's budget, expenditure and financial governance systems.

I am proud to say that Somalia is a beautiful country of great economic opportunity both at sea and in land. Our newly adopted Foreign Policy has investment at its heart and in the last few years our Government has been working to create the conducive environment for investment in all our key priority sectors.

Tackling terrorism, rebuilding an inclusive state and playing a meaningful role in our region and the wider world requires sustainable development which I am certain we can nurture and sustain with the wealth of our nation.

So, while we are grateful for the aid that our partners have and continue to provide to us, we strongly encourage them and their entrepreneurs to invest in Somalia for the social and economic profit of both themselves and the Somali people. Indeed, with the wealth of our resources, Somalia is truly a place where investment will most certainly meet great profitable opportunities.

Mr. President-

In closing, let me once again thank the Council for its unwavering support of Somalia. The strength of the Council Members' commitments combined with our people and Governments robust partnership on the ground, has today brought forward a Somalia at one with itself and focused on the collective achievement of national stability, progress and prosperity. Somalia has turned the corner and there is absolutely no turning back to the dark past.

It is my most earnest desire that what is discussed here and decisions made will be in the best interests of a united Somalia - one Somalia- a sovereign, secure, democratic, and federal Somalia at peace with itself and the world, for the benefit of her people.

Thank you.

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