The new Somali administration's efforts
at restoring peace and stability have received a significant boost from the
African Union, which is giving $1 million to Mogadishu to strengthen its
security forces. The African Union signed an agreement with President Sheikh
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government as part of the recently signed Djibouti
agreement that led to the formation of the new unity government. Under the
agreement, security forces from the former transitional government would join
forces with those from the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) to
enforce peace in the capital, Mogadishu as well as in other parts of the
Ambassador Nicholas Bwakirah is the AU special envoy who signed the
agreement with the Somali government. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that he
is confident in the prospects of the new Somali administration.
signed with the prime minister of Somalia a framework agreement, which foresees
that we will provide assistance of $1 million which is seed money to help the
government to create a national security force. Now, you have to see this in
the framework of the Djibouti peace process. The Djibouti peace process has
foreseen that a joint security force would be created between the formal TFG
(Transitional Federal Government) and ARS to bring these two forces together to
create a joint force. So it is to reinforce the institutions of Somalia to
create a capacity of Somalia notably, in the area of security that we have done
that," Ambassador Bwakirah noted.
said the Africa Union understands the importance of ensuring peace in the
country including the capital, Mogadishu.
agree with the new president of Somalia that security is a key priority. It is
a show of commitment of the Africa Union that the chairman of the Africa Union,
Jean Ping, had decided to make available these resources to the government of
national unity of Somalia," he said.
Bwakirah said there is growing confidence among ordinary Somalis that peace
would be restored after 18 years of living under the control of armed groups.
think it is very significant because every Somali national is aspiring to peace.
Every Somali national is tired of violence, and we have seen that when we talk
to Somali elders, community leaders, as well as religious leaders. They all
tell us they are tired of war and therefore, we are sure that it is not only
the priority for the government, the president, and the cabinet, but it is also
the priority for every Somali citizen," Ambassador Bwakirah pointed out.
said the Africa Union has confidence in the ability of the new Somali
administration to address the needs of Somali citizens.
prospects for the new cabinet and the new government to succeed are very good.
On the political front, they are advocating for peace with everybody, including
those who are outside the Djibouti peace process. Secondly, they have pledged
to have good neighborhood relationship with neighbors. Thirdly, they are trying
to mobilize humanitarian assistance for those populations which have been
displaced internally or refugees who have gone outside Somalia. As you know,
there has been a terrible drought and the government is trying to mobilize
assistance for all its nationals," he said.
Bwakirah said the new government needs to be supported in its effort to cater
to its nationals.
they are also trying to build a capacity, a capacity to mobilize internal
resources to raise taxes, and so on. Last, week they signed an agreement, a
bilateral memorandum of understanding with Kenya. Kenya is going to help them
raise taxes for things being exported out of Kenya to Somalia. So I'm absolutely
confident that they are moving towards the right direction," Ambassador
Bwakirah pointed out.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed sharply condemned over the weekend calls by
terrorist al-Qaida group leader Osama bin Laden for Somalis and Muslims
worldwide to fight Sheikh Sharif's new administration. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh
Ahmed, who headed the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia in exile,
joined the western-backed peace process last year.
The al-Qaeda leader urged Somalis last week to rise up
against President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who was elected as the country's
first Islamist president in January in neighboring Djibouti after receiving the
most votes from Somali parliamentarians meeting there.
Some political observers see the president now as having
to face the daunting task of establishing a new security force and persuading
Islamist fighters to back the government in the interests of peace.
Hard-line Islamic insurgent groups, including al-Shabab,
have refused to recognize the new administration, describing it as a western
stooge. They vow to continue their insurgency until eventually they can seize
control of the country.
Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with
close ties to al-Qaida, al-Shabab has embarked on a campaign of terror and
violence in the capital, Mogadishu and other areas in the country, including
seizure of the parliament building in Baidoa.
Somalia has been without an effective government since
former President Mohammed Siad Barre was ousted in a coup d'état in 1991.