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Press Conference by Somalia, 3 April 2012

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

Declaring that “failure is not an option,” Omar Jamal, Chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Somalia to the United Nations, today reaffirmed the commitment of Somali transitional authorities to the full implementation by 20 August of a time-bound road map that would set the country on the path towards political stability.

He said the efforts of the Somali Transitional Federal Government had been “remarkable” in the run-up to the August deadline for concluding the country’s transition phase and completing key tasks related to the political road map agreed in September 2011, namely drafting a new constitution, carrying out Parliamentary reform and promoting good governance. During a Headquarters press conference, he told reporters that the “smooth transitional period” presented a prime opportunity for the Somali people, regional actors and the wider international community to demonstrate commitment to the long-troubled country’s stabilization.

While the Government had set goals and benchmarks ahead of the deadline, its commendable efforts were still hampered by a lack of resources. While he acknowledged that the international community had long been supportive of the transition process, Mr. Jamal said that in order for Somalia to move towards a successful conclusion, stakeholders must consider increasing their financial assistance funds so that the new Government could face the major tasks ahead.

As an example of some of the challenges transitional authorities now faced, he said that the “huge military gains” that had realized with the ouster of Al-Shabab from many regions of the country had also led to new and costly responsibilities to promote development and economic revitalization in the reclaimed areas. The lack of funds was also hampering efforts to gather the expertise need to draft a new constitution, he added.

He underscored the ongoing threat posed by Al-Shabab in Kenya, as well as Somalia. That group, now aligned with Al-Qaida had recently carried out attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa, and he encouraged the Kenyan Government to take the matter very seriously, for the safety of its own citizens and of the thousands of Somali refugees in that country.

The Executive Branch of the Government was seriously committed and determined to the full implementation of the road map. Indeed, the Government and international community were on the “same page” that there should not be an extension of the transitional authorities “merely for the sake of extension”. He hooped there would be smooth progress towards the next phase. The Government was determined and committed.

Responding to questions, he said that piracy was a problem that must be tackled on land and at sea, through building the capacity of police forces and judicial structures, as well as by providing assistance to the Somali Coast Guard. “Yes we have concerns about universal jurisdiction and other legal issues, but generally things are going in the right direction,” he said.

He went on to say that the President, Prime Minister and other high officials were well-aware of the problems regarding illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. To comprehensively address the issue there ultimately needed to be a strong Somali Coast Guard, but, in the meantime, the authorities had been raising that issue, including at the recent London Conference on Somalia.

To a question regarding the status of Puntland and Somaliland after the transition was completed, he said that Puntland was part of the road map process. The question of Somaliland would be addressed after the road map was implemented, and he believed that a framework would be in place by the time the transition was complete.

To a query regarding reported human rights violations by Government forces in Bidoa and other places freed of Al-Sahbab control, he said that such charges were being investigated by Government authorities. The Somali Government had always worked to promote and protect human rights, but such tasks were difficult against a backdrop of widespread terrorist activity and instability in many areas. Meanwhile, the new constitution would take major steps forward in that regard, he said, noting by example, that a key goal was to ensure that the new Parliament was composed of 30 per cent women.

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