The two-day High-Level Partnership Forum on Somalia held in Brussels concluded on Wednesday with the representatives of 58 countries and six international organizations acknowledging that the horn of Africa country is on the right path to recovery despite the major challenges it continues to face.
The Forum, which opened on Tuesday, was co-convened by Federica Mogherini, the European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallstrom, and co-chaired by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui.
The acknowledgment was made, by the participants, after taking stock of the reforms undertaken on the political, security and economic sectors, since the last Partnership Forum held in London last year. The participants also took the opportunity to set priorities that need to be addressed over the next 6-12 months.
Officially opening the Forum, on Wednesday, Somalia’s President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, said the country had made progress since he assumed leadership, in February last year, but cautioned his countrymen that they still face a myriad of challenges which must be tackled to help achieve lasting peace and security.
“There are no quick fix results for all Somali challenges but strong commitment, hard work and consistent evaluation are needed to achieve tangible results,” President Farmaajo told the gathering that included his Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khayre, several federal government ministers, federal member states presidents, international partners and diplomats.
The President said over the last year, his government together with international partners had formulated a transition plan for the security framework, which is central to assuming the primary security responsibilities from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 2020.
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, who is also the head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Madeira said the peacekeeping force was working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia to conditionally hand over some of the responsibilities in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution passed last year.
“We are working very closely with the government and the government is leading the process. We have sat down and we have been planning the implementation of the priority phase of the first phase,” the SRCC said, adding that the priority tasks are the handing over of Mogadishu stadium, the liberation of Leego town and the securing of the Main Supply Route, Mogadishu-Baidoa.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, who also attended the meeting, said the Forum is a deal between Somalis and the international community to invest in the country, while the citizens adopt a genuinely inclusive approach to achieving political, economic and security reform progress.
Ms. Mogherini, challenged the participants at the Forum to support Somalia in its push for debt-relief and access to lending by international financial institutions, while asking the African Union, AMISOM and troop contributing countries to play their rightful role in bring lasting peace and security to the horn of Africa country.
In his reply, Ambassador Madeira promised that AMISOM and the African Union will continue to execute their mandate, while at the same time observing human rights and fostering reconciliation among various clans.
The Forum was also addressed by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace and Security, Rosemary DiCarlo, and Ms. Wallstrom who announced that Sweden would double its development assistance to Somalia as well as humanitarian aid.
Speaking on behalf of the council of Federal Member States, Puntland state president, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gass, noted that Somalis would only take full advantage of their rich natural resources, their talent and entrepreneurial skills when security and stability is restored.
The Brussels Partnership Forum builds on two earlier meetings held in London and Mogadishu that not only agreed on the Security Pact and the New Partnership for Somalia but also prioritized a security transition plan.
In the final communique issued at the end of the two-day Forum, the participants agreed to take stock of the outcomes of the forum and to commence preparations for the next meeting to be held in six months.
(Source: African Union)