Remarks By H.E. President Jerry Rawlings – Somalia

President Rawlings with conference delegates
Conference on The Role of The African Union/ AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in Support of The Implementation of The Djibouti Peace Process For Somalia. 28 February – 2 March, 2011, Accra, Ghana

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Your Excellency President Mills, Speaker of the Somali Parliament, Hon. Sheik Aden, Honourable Ministers of State, members of the African Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen.

It is gratifying to note that we have assembled here to deliberate on the quest for peace in Somalia.

The situation in Somalia has dragged for two decades with several failed attempts at resolution. The African Union Mission in Somalia has a mandate to bring lasting solution to the conflict in Somalia within the framework of the Djibouti Peace Accord.

Ladies and gentlemen, as delegates and major contributors to the role AMISOM plays in Somalia, we have to acknowledge the fact that success in Somalia will come about only when we reconsider and re-examine our approach. I say this not only to members of the international community but the Somali people, some of whom are here in their capacities as parliamentarians and members of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.

The various factions in Somalia fighting to take control of a divided country must recognize the fact that Somalia is a well-endowed country resource-wise and the time has come to take a more inclusive and reconciliatory stance towards absolute peace. It is time these factions responded to the process of dialogue, reconciliation and nationalism.

The international community also has a major role to play in bringing lasting solution to the Somali conflict, but the Somali factions have to show enough commitment to elicit such support.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank AMISOM forces presently consisting of Uganda and Burundi troops for the huge sacrifices they are making in seeking peace in Somalia. I am making an earnest plea to other countries that have pledged support and others yet to, to all join hands to boost the stabilization process in Somalia.

It is also imperative that international organisations such as the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, the League of Arab States and others join hands in a concerted effort to help us bring lasting peace to Somalia. We cannot succeed if we do not join forces in tackling the Somalia peace process. Working independent of each other is not the answer.

Part of the problem in Somalia is the leadership vacuum created by the inability of some of our elected politicians and members of parliament to stay within influential distance of those who elected them. The dominant reality in Somalia has for long been the seeming uncontrollable situation on the ground. That situation is not impervious to reason, dialogue and influence. Our absence from them has therefore made it difficult to build trust.

Ladies and gentlemen, where there is detachment our sphere of influence is reduced.

Somalia currently faces the threat of famine caused by prolonged drought and we need the concerted effort of the international community to support with food and other relief aid so the crisis does not escalate and turn an already unfortunate situation into a tragedy as happened in the past. We have to make it clear however that armed factions who take advantage of such situations and deprive innocent and hapless civilians of aid will not be countenanced. If such factions have any respect or sensitivity towards their people it is incumbent upon them to do away with such behaviour.

Ladies and gentlemen, next week AMISOM will be hosting a technical meeting on requirements for the process in Somalia. We will use that meeting to bring home to our partners and members of the international community, the need for assistance in all facets of our operations. I have since the AU Summit last month met some of the stakeholders on the peace process and plan to hold meetings with leaders of IGAD countries as well as a personal call on other governments.

Somalia is in need of internal structures if the rebuilding process is to succeed. Ministries operate on inadequate budgets and the Transitional Federal Government can barely operate meaningfully. Corporate institutions and investors should not wait until peace is achieved before rushing in. We have a responsibility politically, morally and ethically to contribute towards the peace objective as well.

I thank all those clan and opinion leaders within Somalia for their efforts towards peace so far. The process will require more commitment in the coming weeks and months. There are too many political developments in the world presently, and we should not allow Somalia to be forgotten in the wind of change that is sweeping across the world. We have to take advantage of the quest for freedom and justice blowing elsewhere to influence the process of freedom and reconciliation in Somalia too.

Let us fashion out some more innovative approaches that would enable us complement ongoing efforts in Somalia and the sooner we move into Somalia the sooner will we be able to speed up the cry of our Somali brothers and sisters.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you positive and fruitful deliberations towards lasting peace in Somalia.

Thank you.