By JULIUS BARIGABA
After a two-day high-level meeting on Somalia in Brussels, representatives of 58 countries and six international organisations are convinced that the Horn of Africa country is on the path to recovery.
The July 17-18 meeting was co-convened by Federica Mogherini, European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom.
Ms Wallstrom told the forum co-chaired by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, that Sweden would double its development assistance and humanitarian aid to Somalia.
The participants, who took stock of political, economic and security reforms undertaken since the last Partnership Forum held in London in 2017, said all these are milestones that augur well for Somalia’s future.
The delegates also set priorities that need to be addressed over the next six to 12 months.
Opening the Forum, Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said the country had made progress since he assumed leadership in February last year, but cautioned his countrymen that they still face a myriad of challenges which must be tackled to achieve lasting peace and security.
“There are no quick fix results for all Somali challenges but strong commitment, hard work and consistent evaluation are needed to achieve tangible results,” President Farmaajo told the gathering that included his Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, several federal government ministers, federal member states presidents, international partners and diplomats.
President Farmaajo said over the past one year, his government together with international partners had formulated a transition plan for the security framework before taking over security responsibilities from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) by 2020.
Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia Francisco Madeira said the peacekeeping force was working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia to conditionally hand over some of the responsibilities in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution passed last year.
“We are working very closely with the government and the government is leading the process. We have been planning the implementation of first phase,” said Mr Madeira.
He said the priority tasks are handing over of Mogadishu stadium, the liberation of Leego town and the securing of the main supply route — Mogadishu-Baidoa.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia Michael Keating, who also attended the meeting, said the Forum is a deal between Somalis and the international community to invest in the country, while the citizens adopt a genuinely inclusive approach to achieving political, economic and security reforms.
Ms Mogherini challenged the participants at the Forum to support Somalia in its push for debt-relief and access to lending by international financial institutions, while asking the African Union, Amisom and troop contributing countries to play their role to bring lasting peace and security to the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
Mr Madeira promised that Amisom and the African Union will continue to execute their mandate, while at the same time observing human rights and fostering reconciliation among various clans.