World resolves Somalia bail out

World resolves Somalia bail out


World leaders attending a major conference here convened by Britain, responded to invitation by Prime Minister David Cameron to give full support to an internally brokered roadmap to return Somalia to peace and democratic governance by August 20, this year, when the mandate of the transitional government expires. 

Under the plan, a new constitution would be adopted to guide elections of parliamentarians and president as well as formation of an all inclusive government. 

Opening the conference at Lancaster House here, Mr Cameron lamented that the west had sat by and watched Somalia degenerate into lawlessness and humanitarian crisis, with consequences affecting the whole world. 

Delegates to the conference included Presidents Jakaya Kikwete, Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. 

British Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, said there were encouraging signs that Somalia was now ready for recovery and warned that the world would pay a price if it wasted the opportunity to support that process.  He, however, made it clear that the Somalis must remain owners of the process.

"We are not here to impose solutions to a country from afar. Nor are we here to tell you the Somalis what to do. We are here to get behind your efforts and help you to turn things around."  The British Premier announced that to step up the operation against Somali piracy, Tanzania, Mauritius and Seychelles had agreed to handle prosecution of pirates apprehended off the Somali coast while Somalia would take back convicted pirates. 

A Memorandum of Understanding to that effect was signed by President Kikwete at the sideline of the conference yesterday.  Earlier, Mr Kikwete said Tanzania's foremost interest in Somalia was to see the country restoring peace, security and political stability.  "This meeting should give credit to the Somali people and the neighbouring region for the progress made so far in that direction," he said, stressing that the Somalis must retain ownership of the peace and recovery process.

Mr Cameron said Britain, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway had pledged contributions to a local stabilization fund, which would support regional projects in Somalia. They were also jointly working on a programme to enhance maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean. 

President Kibaki drew the attention of the conference to the burden of hosting Somali refugees Kenya was shouldering. According to him, there are 630,000 Somalis at Dadaab camp “and a larger number across the country.”  Britain announced a 51 million pounds grant while Mrs Hilary Clinton said the US would add 64 million dollars to support refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia. 

Mr Kibaki warned that the merger of al-Shabab with al-Qaeda two weeks ago posed a new threat to the region. "We have recently apprehended a number of foreign fighters within al-Shabab ranks," he said. Kenya has sent troops to pursue al-Shabab terrorists inside Somalia. 

The conference welcomed the UN Security Council move on Thursday to expand the UN-AU peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) to 17,000 troops.  Another international conference will be convened in Istanbul, Turkey, next June to co-ordinate efforts to support reconstruction and development investment in Somalia.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Sunday sent ...

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