June 01, 2012
UN Secretary General Worried About Power Vacuum in Somalia
The United Nations Secretary-General warned against the dangers of a power vacuum in Somalia with the mandate of the "Somalia transition government" due to end this August. The warning was made at the end of a two day international conference on Somalia in Istanbul, Turkey that included representatives from 54 countries.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned delegates at the Istanbul conference on Somalia against the dangers of warlords exploiting a power vacuum in the east African country and said the international community must strengthen security and increase aid in order to head off the warlords.
The Somali transitional government mandate expires on August 20th. But Secretary-General Ban said the conference gave positive commitments to be ready for that date.
"I was assured by President Sheik Ahmed and all the delegations hoped and expected ((the transitional goverment)) should be ended by that day. By then Somalia must have broad-based and inclusive political governance," Ban said.
Ban said a new president of Somalia must be elected by August 20 and he said the new government should be based on an established constitution.
He said the new governement must reflect international human rights standards and the new constitution should be put to a referendum open to all Somalis regardless of gender, clan or political affiliation.
The Secretary-General praised the commitment to 30% female representation in the planned constituent Assembly and new parliament of Somalia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addressing the closing press conference said the Istanbul meeting had agreed on a new initiative with the emphasis on security for Somalia.
He said the three pillars to rebuilding Somalia are political stability, economic re-development and especially security. He said thats why we have agreed at this conference, under the initiative of Turkey, to set up a "Rebuilding and Restructuring fund for the Somali security sector."
The call for urgent international aid for Somalia came as allegations of corruption hung over the conference.
According to a World Bank report, over $100 million in aid to the Somalia transitional government between 2009 and 2010 could not be accounted for. But Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed welcomed the report and call for international assistance.
He said the missing funds referred to never reached Somalia and he said maybe they are in the pockets of other people. He said Samalis would welcome the help of international organizations to help find where this money went, as the Somalia transitional goverment is now struggling to pay workers their wages.
The British foreign minister William Hague, who attended the conference, called for the setting up, as soon as possible, of the Joint Financial Management Board which was agreed upon at February's London conference on Somalia. The board is intended to help regulate Somalia's finances and development assistance.
The Istanbul meeting agreed on the establishment of a multi donor Trust Fund for assistance after the transition of power to a new government in August.