News / Africa

Somalia PM: London Conference A ‘Game-Changer’

U.N.'s special representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga (r) is greeted by Somali PM Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (center) as he arrives at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, January 24, 2012.
U.N.'s special representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga (r) is greeted by Somali PM Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (center) as he arrives at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, January 24, 2012.
Henry Ridgwell

Representatives of more than 50 governments and international organizations are converging on London for an international conference designed to be a catalyst for rebuilding Somalia.  Participants will include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  

Ahead of Thursday's conference, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali insisted a stable, prosperous future for Somalia is not an impossible dream.

"Despite being described as the world’s most failed state, Somalia is achieving standards of living that are equal or superior to many other African nations,"  said Ali. "The country ranks in the top half of African countries on several key indicators.  It may also surprise many that two northern Somali ports account for 95 percent of all goat and 52 percent of all sheep exports for the entire east African region.”

Nevertheless the transitional government has little control of large areas of the country outside the capital Mogadishu.  Prime Minister Ali said a stable future depends on the cooperation of the transitional authorities with the African Union and the wider international community.

“It is time to return both the process and the country to their rightful owners: the people of Somalia," he said. "And come August, so it will be.  There must be no further extension of the transition; it has to end.  With the help of our neighbors and friends of the African continent and beyond, we are making progress on the four strategic goals of the roadmap: security, reconciliation and political outreach, completion of the constitution-making process and delivery of good governance.”

Despite such glimmers of hope, warlords control large swathes of Somalia.  The militant group al-Shabab, which earlier this month formalized its relationship with al-Qaida, also controls large areas, though is being hit on three fronts, by African Union, Kenyan and Ethiopian troops.

Amid the fighting, a severe drought which turned to famine in the south last year took thousands of lives.

In addition, pirates remain active on Somalia's eastern coast, attacking ships and costing the shipping industry billions of dollars, mostly for increased security costs.

The host of Thursday’s conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron, says he hopes the participants will tackle the twin threats of piracy and terrorism.

But officials from human rights groups say the focus should instead be on protecting the people of Somalia after more than two decades of war.

Benedicte Goderiaux is from Amnesty International:

“If you look at the discussions that have happened ahead of the conference, the hints that different governments have been giving, it’s very clear that for instance Somali civilians don’t have a voice there, and for instance Somali civil society activists - and I’m talking about human rights activists, but also Somali journalists, who sort of continue to try to report what is really happening on the ground - they have not been consulted, they have not been invited," said Goderiaux.

Somalia’s government has high expectations of the conference - calling it a potential ‘game-changer’ for the country.

Again, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali:

“The problems of Somalia such as piracy, terrorism, anarchy, refugees, famine, droughts are not unique to Somalia and will not be confined to the borders of Somalia," he said. "So we have to all hope to contribute and succeed.”

While many participants welcome the Somalia conference as long overdue, others fear the attention of the international community remains elsewhere.

Secretary of State Clinton and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague will travel from London directly to another conference on Syria's future, being held Friday in Tunis.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid