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Press Conference By Prime Minister Of Transitional Federal Government Of Somalia

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

28 June 2007

Frustrated by broken promises and botched peace plans, the Prime Minister of Somalia’s fragile interim Government said today his war-torn country was at a “critical crossroads” and called on the Security Council and the wider international community to provide peacekeepers and resources to help support democracy and security programmes, while improving the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“We are fed up with promises, what we need now is action,” Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi said at a Headquarters press conference. It followed his briefing to the Security Council in which he urged the powerful 15-nation body to help speed up the transformation of the tiny, ill-equipped African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) into a larger United Nations-led force. “We have heard it said: ‘Make peace and we will come and keep it’ […] but it is not right to neglect the interests of the Somali people.’"

Recalling that Ethiopia’s intervention on behalf of the United Nations-backed Transitional Federal Government had helped remove the Union of Islamic Courts movement months ago, he said the turmoil in Somalia had been sparked by terrorist actors from other countries. The increased suicide bombings and other terrorist tactics had never been seen before in Somalia or the wider subregion. Islamists, jihadists and other external fighters had been “imported” to destabilize the country and the Horn of Africa, and the Transitional Federal Government would do what it could to deal with that threat. But the international community must help before it was too late.

The Government could not provide adequate security inside a near-lawless Mogadishu or the rest of the country, he said. What its struggling security forces needed was capacity-building, facilities and other financial and material resources to carry out their mission. Even though Burundi, Ghana, Malawi, Benin and Nigeria had offered troops, the full deployment of AMISOM, which would increase its strength from 1,500 to 8,000 troops, had been delayed due to lack of resources and logistical problems. A plan to expand the African Union force by deploying United Nations peacekeepers after six months had also stalled.

Early deployment of AMISOM, with the support of the international community, would lead to the early withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, paving the way for United Nations peacekeepers, he said. That was crucial for the people’s sake, particularly since intensive consultations with all Somali groups in January had led to the launch of a National Reconciliation Congress.

The Transitional Federal Government and its institutions were committed to making national reconciliation real attempts, he stressed. A National Governance and Reconciliation Committee organized to establish and manage the Congress, towards final peace, but a formal launch had been postponed twice due to lack of resources. International donors had responded positively after the most recent postponement and the Congress would now open on 15 July.

Asked whether the Transitional Federal Government could protect delegations attending the reconciliation conference, he said the Congress was Somali-owned and driven, noting that the country’s original conflict had pitted clan against clan, or various clans against the former regime. In order to address the real issues and root causes of tensions and fighting, the Congress must be held in Mogadishu, the capital, in line with the will of the Somali people.

He said the Congress aimed first to achieve social reconciliation, then political reconciliation, in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter. No clan had been denied participation in the event, and even former Islamic Courts fighters could participate as members of their respective clan delegations once they renounced violence.

Asked how much of the $32 million needed to launch the Congress had been raised, he said the European Commission and the United States had provided some $8 million and the rest would be forthcoming once the Congress opened.

What Somalia needed was security, he stressed, asking the United Nations and the wider international community to help. Thus far, it was up to AMISOM to provide the forces and the rest of the international community to provide the logistics.

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For information media • not an official record

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