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

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid