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Somalia: UN political chief calls for increased world support in push for peace

23 October 2009 – The top United Nations political officer, co-chairing a high-level meeting in Kenya on implementing a peace pact between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and some of its Islamist militant opponents, today called for an urgent increase in international support for the strife-torn country.

“Now is the time to move to action, not the time to talk. This is an excellent opportunity to turn around the terrible situation of the last 18 years in Somalia,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said of the country devastated by factional fighting and without a functioning central government since 1991.

Together with TFG Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, Mr. Pascoe chaired a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, of the High-Level Committee overseeing implementation of the UN-facilitated Djibouti peace agreements, signed in June 2008 between the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), one of the Islamist militant groups controlling large swathes of the Horn of Africa country.

Since then an expanded parliament has been established and a new president, prime minister and cabinet selected, but vicious fighting has continued with other Islamic militants with civilians bearing the brunt of the latest upsurge. In September alone, 145 people were reportedly killed and another 285 injured in heavy clashes in the south central region, according to the UN refugee agency.

Speaking to reporters after today’s meeting, Mr. Pascoe said the Security Council was unanimously behind the TFG and confident that it is moving forward and that Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Mr. Sharmarke were doing everything possible to make it happen.

He said members of the international community had to make good on their pledges at a donors’ conference in Brussels in April to support the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia (known as AMISOM) and the strengthening of the TFG’s security forces.

A significant benchmark is the establishment of a well-organized security force by August 2011, the end of the TFG’s current mandate. Just last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah stressed this requirement to a Nairobi meeting of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) of Somali officials and interested partners, set up in January under the Djibouti accords.

Its members include the TFG security institutions, the AU, AMISOM, the UN, the European Union (EU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in East Africa, the Arab League, Norway and the United States.

Mr. Pascoe, who was winding up a five-nation trip to Eastern and Southern Africa, focusing on UN-regional cooperation and regional hotspots, also met today with Kenyan President Mwai Kbaki, with whom he discussed constitutional reforms, the electoral process and the cross-border movement of Somali refugees.

During previous stops in Uganda and Burundi, he expressed strong appreciation for the commitment and sacrifice of those nations which are deploying troops to AMISOM. His mission also took him to South Africa and Angola.

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