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Published On: Sat, May 13th, 2017

Key takeaways from the London Somalia Conference

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The  opening session of the third London Somalia Conference brought together heads of states, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and representatives of organisations working in Somalia.  Somalia’s President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, thanked the British Prime Minister and government for organising the third  London Somalia Conference. President Mohamed outlined the programme of his   administration in light of challenges ( corruption, clan militias, extremism, unreliable judiciary and poverty) and opportunities ( renewed committment of the  International Community to sustaining the progress made over the past five years in Somalia ).
Prime Minister Theresa May urged the Federal Government of Somalia   to create a national   army on ” a federated model” and create reliable judiciary and embark on an economic  recovery  measures despite challenges  caused by droughts and security threats from Al-shabaab. The United Nations Secretary General, Anotonio Guterres, commended AMISOM for its role in kicking Al-shabaab out of the capital, protecting government institutions and the staff of international organisations in Somalia. He  said AMISOM was responding to a threat to global security.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Musa Faki stressed the emphasis is on empowering Somalia  to take over the security,  not to pave the way for the exit of AMISOM.
The President of Uganda pointed a finger at the absence  of patriotic  Somali political parties and called for a more pro-active role for the  Somali business class in humanitarian and development  initiatives . The Prime Minister of Ethiopia said that his country supported the  partial lifting of the arms embargo against Somalia and reassured the audience that support for Al-shabaab was waning along with its capability to take over territory.

The call for a Somali army based on a federated model drew criticisms from some analysts. Creation of a  Somali army that cannot overthrow the government  or take sides  in clan conflicts  or wage a war against a neghbouring  coutnry on a whim can only be achieved  through federalism, one  argument goes. Somalis have been discussing the candour of President Museveni of Uganda, who pointed out that the source of the problem in Somalia “is the absence of patriotic political parties” due the bankrupt ideology of clannism perpetuated by opportunist politicians. Somalia  does not only need development  assistance;
it needs commitment on the part of the International Community to hold perpetrators of political violence to account.  Impunity for clan militias feeds off extremism  in Somalia, which the UN Secretary General has identified as a threat to the global security. Development  and security are inseperable, as the alliterative hashtag Nabad iyo Nolol ( peace and life ) shows.

Liban Ahmad

liban@icloud.com

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