11 September, 2012

Ambass. Matt Baugh: Somalia stepping into the future

UK Ambassador to Somalia: stepping into the future

September 11, 2012

Yesterday, Somalia marked a major milestone in its recent history. After two decades of civil war, and a year after the Roadmap was agreed, the Transitional Period finally concluded with the election by MPs of new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. This was the first such election inside Somalia for many years and came just weeks after the agreement on a new provisional Constitution, the successful inauguration of the new federal Parliament and the election of a new Speaker. Thanks to their leadership, Somalis have delivered a more accountable, more representative and more legitimate Parliament; the result of dialogue, compromise and, above all, a desire for change and to break with the past.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier today this is a significant and important step. As the British Ambassador to Somalia, I fully echo our Prime Minister’s message. We also look forward now to the prompt appointment of a new Prime Minister and a new government.

The UK has fully supported this Somali process. The London Conference on Somalia in February was an important milestone in galvanizing international support behind Somalia. We have supported the UN, the African Union and IGAD in their attempts to help Somalis bring greater stability to their country. Above all, though, we have continued to support Somalis reclaim their country. The political developments come on the back of the advances made by Somalia’s security forces and AMISOM troops in recent months – in Mogadishu, Afgoye, Baidoa, Beletweyne, and Afmadow. For the first time in many years people are rebuilding their properties and businesses. Confidence is increasing and members of the diaspora are returning, many of them young and energetic.

As we reflect on what has been achieved, so we should also start to look forward. There is clearly much to do. Somalia still faces many daunting challenges – the gains made are fragile. Strengthening safety and security; building more effective governance; improving maternal and child health; combating corruption; and strengthening the economy so that more Somalis have a stake in their country’s future – these are the challenges that will face the new government.

Rest assured, the UK will continue to help; we’re in this for the long-term. But, ultimately, Somalia’s future will rest on the choices of its people and the actions of its leaders. It is only through continued and more effective leadership that Somalia can once again have the sort of accountable and representative institutions needed to respond to the aspirations of the Somali people.

So as we mark what has been achieved, we now look to Somalia’s leaders to ensure that this fragile and hard-won momentum is not lost and that they demonstrate their determination and commitment to deliver real and sustainable progress – transparently, accountably and credibly. As Somalia decides, so its people continue to demand greater change and a brighter future. After twenty years of conflict, they deserve and need nothing less. Now that would be something really worth celebrating.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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