NAIROBI — Top UN envoy for Somalia has called for sustained international support for Somalia to consolidate gains which have been realized in the past year.
In a year-end letter to the Somalis and the international community on Tuesday, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga however cautioned that the road to stabilization will not be easy.
“Somalia remains a state in need of support from the international community, which will need to re-invest comprehensively and generously if it is to capitalize on its massive investment of time and resources,” Mahiga said.
He said at the beginning of the 2011, the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and half of its staff relocated to Somalia from neighboring Kenya and continued to work alongside key Somali partners in a variety of sectors.
“The center of gravity has shifted to Mogadishu, and UNPOS is completing a major strategic review to ensure full alignment of its policies and programs with the goals and aims of the new government,” he added.
Mahiga said the mission is in the process increasing staff presence in the Somalia by 100 percent in the coming weeks as he called on other members of the international community “to come to Mogadishu”.
The UN envoy noted that, in the last year, UNPOS had closely cooperated with key regional interlocutors to ensure a unified and coordinated approach on important political issues.
According to Mahiga, initiatives included the establishment of a “joint framework” between the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), 7-nation regional body that aims to encourage cooperation between its member states.
He said the framework ensured “close collaboration on issues affecting the Somali peace process”.
“This harmonized international and regional response to challenges within Somalia played a critical role in enabling the international community to speak with one voice in support of the process,” Mahiga added.
For the first time in a generation, he said, a safe, secure and prosperous Somalia at peace with itself and its neighbors seems more like a reasonable aspiration than a distant dream.
“We will work with our Somali brothers and sisters to harness this unique opportunity to transform Somalia.
“I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, a new year that dawns brightly and full of promise and hope.”
Mahiga said the end of transition provided an opportunity for unprecedented female participation in Somali politics and dramatically advanced the cause of gender equality in Somalia.
In February, Principals of the Roadmap endorsed a requirement that women hold a minimum 30 percent of the positions in the National Constituency Assembly and the New Federal Parliament.
Of the 825 members of the NCA, 24 percent were women.
The New Federal Parliament and the New Cabinet have 14 and 20 percent respectively and for the first time, a woman has been appointed to the position of deputy prime minister/minister of foreign affairs.
“This bold and progressive decision has opened the gates for women’s empowerment in the years to come and sets the stage for more gender parity in leadership roles,” he said.
August marked a historic political watershed for modern-day Somalia with the swearing-in of the country’s first formal parliament in more than 20 years.
The event brought to an end the so-called Somali “transition”, which had begun with the 2004 launch of a UN-backed interim government after Somalis had been without a functioning government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Mahiga regretted that human rights violations, including wide spread targeted killings of journalists and endemic sexual violence remain a concern, adding however, that important and tangible steps were taken to recognize the importance of human rights and justice in the context of the political transition.
“These fundamental values were eloquently underscored by President Hassan Sheikh in his inaugural statement. UNPOS supported the development of the justice system through training of judges and lawyers, technical cooperation on policies and legislation and to promote human rights in the military justice system,” he added.
Throughout the past year, the UN envoy said UNPOS walked side by side with the people of Somalia, adding that the Horn of Africa nation now has a new committed government which the UN will continue to work with its partners to consolidate international assistance and coordinate activities in order to assist the government to deliver on its priorities.