International community urges support for new government in Somalia — Global Issues

James Swan, who also heads the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), urged both the authorities and the international community to take advantage of this “moment of opportunity”

Spirit of cooperation

“We call on Somali leaders to: working together in a spirit of cooperation and national purpose. We call on Somalia’s international friends and partners, including those in this Council, to offer: constructive support and encouragement,” he said.

Somalia’s electoral process ended on May 15 when MPs in Hassan Sheikh Mohamud voted to become the country’s 10th president.

The presidential election was held in response to what Mr. Swan mentioned: “too long and controversial process” to elect the legislature.

Shortcomings and Violence

While welcoming the successful poll, Mr Swan also pointed out some shortcomings.

The Somali people did not have a chance to vote for the House of the People in a “one-person-one-vote” election, and only 21 percent of elected MPs were women, despite a penny quota.

He added that many irregularities in the selection of MPs were noted during the trial, which were repeatedly marred by violence and resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

presidential priorities

Mr Swan underlined the UN’s willingness to work with the new government and said he had heard directly from President Mohamud about his immediate goals, including national reconciliation, improving relations between the central government and the federal states and addressing the security threat posed by the militant group al-Shabaab.

Other priorities include completing constitutional and judicial reforms, completing election-related laws, ensuring compliance and international debt relief requirements, and focusing on the severe drought affecting the region.

“We believe this is an appropriate list of initial priorities and look forward to learning more details when the new leadership takes charge and a new prime minister and cabinet are appointed in the coming weeks,” said Mr. Swan.

Dire humanitarian situation

As for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia, the UN envoy reported that the number of people affected by drought has risen to 6.1 million.

“The country is at increased risk of localized famine in six communities if food prices continue to rise and humanitarian aid is not sustained,” he warned.

Despite scaling up in humanitarian operations, a $1.45 billion appeal for this year has only been 15 percent funded. In addition, donors must honor pledges and pledges made last month at a high-level event in Geneva targeting humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa.

“Without immediate receipt of funding to expand humanitarian operations, we face the prospect of significant loss of life in the coming period,” he told the ambassadors.

“Even as we focus now on saving lives and preventing famine, there is also a need to increase resilience, development and climate responses so that those affected by recurrent crises can adapt and thrive in the future. ”

Al-Shabaab revives

Mr Swan also spoke of the security situation which remains “highly volatile”. Deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab in March and April appeared to be an attempt to disrupt the final stages of the election process.

He praised Somali security forces and their counterparts from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) “who secured the electoral process and suffered the deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab, then and since.”

Earlier this month, the group carried out a complex attack on an ATMIS base in the Middle Shabelle region, killing several peacekeepers from Burundi.

AU Representative Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira said such attacks point to a resurgent Al-Shabaab “which will continue to pose multiple challenges to both Somalia and ATMIS, highlighting the urgent need for a robust and adequate response to them.”

He underlined the essential need to scale up air support with transport and attack helicopters, as well as adequate offensive weapons, both for ATMIS and the Somali security forces.

The AU mission was established last month and follows an earlier operation known as AMISOM

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