8671st Security Council Meeting: Situation in Somalia

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21-Nov-2019 02:13:55
Speakers in Security Council urge international support to build consensus ahead of critical Somalia elections, welcome gains against Al-Shabaab at 8671st meeting.

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Welcoming advances in Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab and in its planning for political and economic progress, speakers in the Security Council called today for international support with a view to building consensus throughout the East African country with the approach of critical elections in 2020.

“Progress on the ambitious agenda for 2020 will require a high degree of political consensus,” said James Swan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). Underlining the critical importance of upcoming elections, he said that in addition to specifying all modalities, there must be broad consensus at all levels.

It is of particular importance to forge cooperation between the Central Government and key federal member states after a year in which effective cooperation was absent, he continued, citing challenges in the states of “Galmudug”, Jubbaland and “Somaliland”. He urged dialogue, compromise and pragmatism to overcome differences, with the support of international partners.

Also briefing today were Francisco Gaetano Jose Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM); Halima Ismail Ibrahim, Chair of the National Independent Electoral Commission; and Osman Moallim, Executive Director of the Somalia Youth Development Network.

Mr. Madeira, speaking by video-teleconference from Mogadishu, said: “There are signs of hope radiating from Somalia and its people.” However, progress remains fragile and requires international support, he cautioned. Outlining progress against the continuing threat posed by Al-Shabaab, he said the group is finding it increasingly difficult to operate along supply routes and has been forced into hiding after months of intense activity. Outlining progress in the transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali Security Forces, he said the Mission has already handed over authority in several key towns. However, major force-generation gaps remain, he cautioned, stressing that military pressure against Al-Shabaab “must be relentless”.

Ms. Ibrahim reviewed preparations for the forthcoming elections, while explaining that the clan-based power-sharing model in place since 2017 facilitated previous national elections but was compromised by vote-buying, limited participation by women and the total exclusion of marginalized and minority groups. Somalis therefore support one-person-one-vote suffrage in the upcoming elections, she stressed.

Mr. Moallim also spoke via tele-conference from Mogadishu, emphasizing the importance of inclusive and credible elections through one-person-one-vote suffrage. “Somali civil society is ready to support the process when a political consensus is achieved,” he said, calling for international support in the areas of security, reconciliation efforts between the Federal Government and the federal member states, and ensuring inclusive participation, particularly by women.

As Council members took the floor, most welcomed Somalia’s progress in facing multiple challenges, while expressing concern over the continuing threats posed by Al-Shabaab and humanitarian crises. Many urged the resolution of differences between the Federal Government and the federal member states by intensifying dialogue.

South Africa’s representative, also speaking for Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, warned that political tensions may increase as the elections approach. He called upon the international community to strengthen efforts in support of Somalia’s preparations for credible polls based on the principle of one person, one vote. Regarding AMISOM, he said the Council must ensure that any future drawdown of the Mission is guided by the actual situation on the ground.

Somalia’s representative said his country’s priorities are concluding the constitutional review, preparing for elections, providing humanitarian relief and strengthening security institutions as the national army leads an offensive against Al-Shabaab. The Government is fully committed to bold reform and timely electoral preparations, he added, urging partners to redouble their support. The Government also recognizes that its goals cannot be met in the absence of cooperation and engagement with the federal member states, he said, while emphasizing that it will not recognize election outcomes in places where the voting is not fair and inclusive, and neither should its partners. He went on to stress that rebuilding trust means holding Government to a higher standard of conduct, with no place for the “old destructive ways”.

Several speakers expressed their condolences in relation to the 20 November killing, in Mogadishu, of Almaas Elman, a prominent activist whose sister briefed the Council during its open debate on reconciliation two days ago.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, United States, Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Peru, Belgium, China, Poland, Germany, Indonesia, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 12:15 p.m.

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