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April 12, 11

NEWS / UN envoy calls for constructive internal dialogue on future of Somalia

12 April 2011 – The United Nations envoy for Somalia today urged the country’s leaders to engage in dialogue that will lead to peace, national unity and stability in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, as a UN-backed consultative meeting to prepare for a new political dispensation opened in Kenya.

“This dialogue you are engaging in today, tomorrow and beyond is intended to empower you and the institutions which have been entrusted with the serious responsibility of overseeing the process of bringing the transition to a close,” Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, told delegates attending the two-day High-Level Political Meeting for Somalia in Nairobi.

Under the Transitional Federal Charter, the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was due to expire in August. However, in February, the interim parliament voted to extend its mandate by three years beyond the August deadline by which it was to enact a new constitution ahead of general elections.

That move drew criticism from Mr. Mahiga, who said the decision was made in haste and without the required consultation on how to end the transition and on next steps. Other tasks which need to be completed during the transition period include political reconciliation and building civilian and security institutions.

Representatives from Somalia’s various groups, including members of the transitional parliament and leaders of two self-declared autonomous regions – Puntland and Gulmudug – are attending the meeting, as well international partners of country’s peace process.

Mr. Mahiga expressed disappointment that the executive arm of the TFG declined to attend the meeting. “I believe they have a good story to share with us on the recent achievements and on the way forward. I truly hope that they can still join us before the end of this meeting,” he said.

According to the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which is headed by Mr. Mahiga, the high-level meeting is an opportunity for the Somali leaders to share information on how regional partners and the international community can support the transitional activities.

Somalia – which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 – has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more recently with al-Shabaab Islamic militants. The country is also facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 2.4 million people are in need of assistance.




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