UNbacked forum identifies areas of common ground on ending Somalias transition

“Above all, there was agreement on the need to place Somalis at the centre of the process, to act inclusively and in a spirit of partnership,” said Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia. The High-Level Political Meeting on Somalia that was held in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya, was convened to exchange views and share information on a number of pertinent issues and to revive dialogue among Somali stakeholders.In a statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting, Mr. Mahiga noted that participants, who included the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament as well as the leaders of two self-declared autonomous regions – Puntland and Gulmudug – and the country’s international partners, identified substantial areas of common ground.In particular, there was agreement on the need to end the transition according to the provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter, which calls for election of the President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament and his deputies before the end of the transition period, namely August 2011.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. Mr. Mahiga had criticized the move at the time, saying it was made in haste and without the required consultations. Other tasks which need to be completed during the transition period include political reconciliation and building civilian and security institutions.On the extension of the Transitional Federal Institutions, Mr. Mahiga said that it was proposed that the Transitional Federal Parliament could be extended for a period of two years. “This was not seen as an end in itself, but as a requirement to complete certain critical tasks, including preparations for eventual national elections,” he said. Related to this, there was also agreement on the need to accelerate progress towards a new federal constitution, he added. 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 UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which is headed by Mr. Mahiga, is tasked with helping Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advance the cause of peace and reconciliation through contacts with Somali leaders, civic organisations and the States and organizations concerned. 13 April 2011A United Nations-backed meeting on Somalia concluded today with participants agreeing on the need to strengthen security and redouble efforts to combat extremism in the Horn of Africa nation, as well as complete a number of tasks before the transitional period ends in August.

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