Help rebuild Somalia, urges new president

DUBAI — Having pledged to restore peace in war-torn Somalia, the country's presidential candidate has urged the Arab and the Muslim world as well as Europe and America to participate in the reconstruction of Somalia.

By Kt Exclusive By Afkar Abdulla

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Published: Mon 13 Sep 2004, 9:44 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:46 PM

Abdullah Yousif Ahmed, who will be Somalia's first civilian president since the overthrow of the central government nearly 14 years ago, on a recent visit to the UAE, is expected to be elected and sworn in on September 22, following a decision by the new parliament in Nairobi.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Mr Ahmed explained that there was an urgent need for international help to bring peace and re-establish infrastructure in the strife-torn country.

“Many Arab and Islamic countries are prepared to contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia," he said, adding that these countries also included the UAE, whose foreign ministry had invited him to discuss the possibility of granting aid to help the country overcome the ravages of 14 years of civil war.

He paid rich tributes to the President, His Highness Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and hailed his wisdom and excellent political stability that would serve as an example for Somalia to emulate.

Speaking about current situation, Mr Ahmed said that during the Socialist and Communist regime of Saeed Barrie, civil war started and is still continuing in some parts of the country.

“Since then many attempts were made to organise the central government, but they failed and the Puntland region, located in the North-western part of Somalia, decided to declare itself autonomous, until a federal government was established.”

Mr Ahmed was elected as President of Puntland region, while he was member of the Reconstruction and Reconciliation Council and made serious attempts to create a federal government, that was finally achieved.

When asked about the status of the Puntland region after the formation of the new federation, Mr Ahmed said that it would remain with the Transitional National Federal Government (TNFG). The election would take place in Nairobi, Kenya on December 22, since Somalia is still not peaceful and Magdeshu is still fully armed and being controlled by opposing factions.

According to Mr Ahmed, the Transitional Federal parliament consists of 275 members including three clans from Somali Lands who will elect the Speaker and Deputy Speakers on September 15 in Kenya. The speakers are expected to spearhead the process through the final stages of a “return to peace” process in the war-torn “Horn of Africa” state. On the same day, the Prime Minister will be appointed and the new government will be formed and the police and military, security forces established.

The new Somali President stressed that after the elections, his government would be prepared to negotiate with faction leaders — especially those in Mogadishu who have some support. The government would also work in disarming the militants in all the regions and persuade faction leaders to give up their power to maintain security, he added.

On plans to fight terrorism in the country, he said: “Since Somalia was included in the terrorist list of the UN Security Council (UNSC), the government will prioritise the issue. Terrorists are using Somalia as a hunting ground because there’s no central government to oppose them.”

Highlighting his future course of action, he said that the ban imposed on Somalis and the export of Somali livestock in many countries, including the UAE, would be lifted with the establishment of the new government.

The government would also establish friendship ties with its neighbouring countries as it needs their contribution in the building of a new Somalia, he said, adding that the government would also pave the way for the Somali expatriates in other countries by providing them with jobs and training them so that they could get back home and enrich the country.

He pointed out that the comprehensive development programme, which was prepared by the government, had been accepted by international organisations including the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations. He pointed out that the new National Federal Government of Somalia had already gained public support from the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.

Yousif Mohammed Ismail, Advisor to the President, said that the landmark resolution, which is part of a comprehensive roadmap, would be laid out by the TNFG on its first business day in Kenya.

“Some observers believe that Mr Ahmed has more of a chance of success than his predecessors during the 14 previous attempts to restore the central government," he said.

“Having been the President of the Puntland region, which declared itself autonomous recently, it remains to be seen how successful he will be. But for the moment, Somalia is hopeful since the new President represents the best hope for peace for a long time,” he said.

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