Somalia entering ‘critical stage’ as end of transition period nears, says UN envoy


Somalia is entering its “most critical stage” as the end of its transitional governing period approaches in August, a United Nations envoy said today, calling for the international community to boost their efforts to help the east African country through its peace and national reconciliation process.
“As Somalia faces the greatest opportunity to end the transition, after so much investment by the international community and well-wishing Somalis, we must complete the tasks at hand,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, told the Security Council in New York. “We must provide timely logistical and financial support to enable us to complete the implementation of the roadmap before August this year, as well as strengthen international cooperation and coordination.”

The country’s Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) are in the process of implementing a roadmap, devised in September last year, that spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on 20 August, UN News Service reports.

Mahiga noted that there are a number of challenges for the roadmap’s implementation to be completed. In particular, he pointed to a lack of time and unavailability of resources as two factors that could have a negative effect in the next months.
“The lack of funding for implementing the roadmap in the remaining three months is of serious concern to all of us, including the Transitional Federal Government (TFG),” he said. “The Constituent Assembly is almost grinding to a halt for lack of funding.”

The envoy also warned that spoilers pose a real threat to the peace process as they are employing various methods to obstruct and reverse gains made in the implementation of the roadmap.
“We must deal with these elements before they succeed in undermining the peace process,” Mahiga said.

Earlier this month, the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), the African Union peacekeeping mission in the country, known by the acronym AMISOM, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), issued a warning to all potential spoilers against jeopardizing the roadmap, warning that sanctions and restrictions could be imposed on those individual groups who seek to obstruct the peace process.

In addition, Mahiga emphasized that in the remaining months before the end of the transition, it is necessary to intensify public and civic education on the peace process, and noted that UNPOS is producing television, radio, print and online material targeting civil society groups which will be part of the National Constituent Assembly.

The 1,000-member body, as well as the new parliament, will be selected by a group known as the Traditional Elders, who represent the full spectrum of Somali society. The Assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution.

The Special Representative also noted that Turkey will host a conference on Somalia, in Istanbul, next month, and that meeting will help define elements of the African country’s post-August strategy.

In a press statement following the briefing, Security Council members welcomed the progress made so far in the implementation of the roadmap and reaffirmed their commitment to support the process.

The Council also urged the TFIs and all other signatories of the roadmap to redouble their efforts to complete the roadmap tasks, with the participation of women and civil society, and voiced concern over the role of spoilers.
“The members of the Security Council strongly supported the joint AU-IGAD-UN letter of May 2012 and reiterated their readiness to support measures against internal and external actors or groups who sought to undermine or block the peace process in Somalia, including after the August transition deadline has passed,” the Members noted in the press statement. “They encouraged all Somalis to engage constructively in the political process and move towards a more peaceful and stable Somalia.”

Until last year, most of Mogadishu was, for several years, riven by a fluid frontline dividing the two sides – fighters belonging to the Al Shabaab movement and troops belonging to the TFG, with the latter supported by the peacekeeping forces of the UN-backed AMISOM. Since the Al Shabaab withdrawal from the capital’s central parts in August, the frontlines were pushed back to the city’s surrounding area. However, the use of roadside bombs, grenades and suicide bombers is still a regular occurrence, and outbreaks of fighting still take place.