Remarks by H.E. Mr. Omar A.A. Sharmarke at the United Nations Security Council Session on Somalia

Mr. President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to be present with you here today to participate in discussions on taking Somalia forward. It’s indeed an honor for Somalia and to all of us here. Somalia cannot thank the Council enough for all that it has done to support her over the years. I was pleased to hear from all the speakers here today of their optimism and commitment to support the progress that Somalia is making.

I would like to welcome the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, and laud him for his leadership in chairing today’s meeting. I would also like to thank the SRSG Nick Kay for his role in Somalia for the last two and half years. Those must have been two difficult but also rewarding years for him in term of the progress that Somalia has made in his tenure as the Special Representative of the Secretary General.

SRSG Kay has been steadfast in his support and optimally infectious about his optimism for Somalia. It’s not uplifting at all that he’d not be left to complete the process he’s invested so much effort and emotions to help shape it up with national and international partners. Not especially now when Somalia is experiencing an all-time collective crescendo momentum on the political process.

I would to assure him and the council that Somalia’s political leadership, both at federal and regional levels, are committed to take forward what is in the best interest of their people and country. All of us recognize that it’s in the best of interest of Somalia to complete the state building and electoral processes within the mandate of the current government which ends in August 2016. As all the previous speakers attested to, significant progress has been made in Somalia in almost all fronts on security and politics. In these early stages of rebuilding, our government has yet to bolster the economic sector as we have on the political and security sectors. With much more remaining to be done, as leaders, we are prepared to go the extra mile to register more progress.

The progress in Somalia since this government took over the reins of leadership, towards the end of 2012, the challenges that have to be overcome, and tasks still outstanding have all been covered in great detail during the last High Level Partnership Forum held in Mogadishu on 29-30 July. We are certain to talk about even greater milestones in the next High Level Partnership Forum, sometime in February 2016. We encourage high level participation and we hope both you, Mr. President, and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, will join us to take stock of achievements, challenges, and plan for sprint lap to elections in 2016.

As the council is well aware, we have had a series of top level meetings on the political process in the month of October, which culminated in the inauguration of National Consultative Forum. Its maiden plenary session was held in Mogadishu on 19th to 20th October, drawing together high level representation from all the existing four regional administrations led by their respective Presidents, the top leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia, as well as representatives from our international partners. Regional level consultations will start in earnest in a matter of days ahead of the national consultative forum meeting in December to discuss and unveil the best possible election options in the absence of one-person-one vote, and agree on a timeline for electoral process for elections that must happen in 2016. I am pleased to say, the process in establishing the last and final interim regional administration has officially begun. A Technical Committee that will manage the process has been put together. We expect to welcome the birth of a new regional administration, Hiraan and Middle Shabelle, by the end of the year.

The Constitution review process is in progress. Although we are not happy with the pace of progress, the institutions concerned are progressing in a manner that than has never before seen. A United Nations-facilitated workshop on constitutional review, with stakeholder participation, was recently held in Mogadishu under my stewardship. A review of two chapters have been concluded and we expect the remainder to be fast tracked.

There is no refuting that we made gains in the security sector. To cement those gains, the leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia has made public of our commitment to security sector reform, especially on the area of transparency and accountability. Forces Integration progress is underway. The Guulwade (Victory) Plan is key to the success of the integration process. What has not been inspiring, however, is the lack of donor support for this plan, as elaborate as the plan is. SNA lacks in equipment, training, and logistical support. This has hampered our ability to leverage on the benefit of force’ integration in terms of envisioned sustained offensive operations against al-Shabaab.

The Federal Government of Somalia, while committed, still faces challenges to assume the full responsibility for salaries payment to the security forces. Once we attain this goal, we hope to redirect stipends funding support from our partners to further support equipment, training and logistical support.

Despite the military gains against al-Shabaab that the Council members mentioned, al-Shabaab’s recent offensive attacks against AMISOM/SNA targets is disconcerting, to say the least. Complex attacks against hotels is now an indication that though Somalia and its international partners have won the battles against al-Shabaab, they have yet to be demolished.

Somalia terror network’s recent proclamation of allegiance to ISIS is not to be taken lightly. With modest gains against this terrorist organization, Somalia cannot afford to have a space for ISIS to exploit and reverse the hard earned progress on security that AMISOM/SNA sacrificed lives and limbs to attain.

That’s why we need the support of the Council, more than ever before, to stand with Somalia against this terror network, to deny it the ability to regroup and/or pose renewed threat in Somalia and the region. Resolution of the crisis in Yemen is crucial. Such will go a long way in keeping al-Shabaab from accruing support from ISIS, using Yemen as conduit or launching pad. The other anchor that is necessary is rallying support for the Guulwade plan. The Federal Government is committed to build the ability of its security forces to absorb the kind of support that they expect from our international partners. That’s the job of the SNA leadership. And that was the essence of effecting recent SNA leadership changes at the top: to effect reforms, both strategic, technical, and operational. As Federal Government of Somalia is prepared to back them up with progressive policies and civilian control.

There’s serious need for AMISOM/SNA to reflect on recent attacks on their bases. The scores that al-Shabaab is collecting against compromises the confidence of the Somali people to confront al-Shabaab. We welcome and encourage our international partners’ efforts to eliminate out al-Shabaab’s top leadership. We owe it to AMISOM/SNA to fulfill its commitment in defeating al-Shabaab.

And finally, on security, while our special forces have performed impeccably well in saving lives, in real-time, in the face of al-Shabaab’s complex attacks on civilian business premises, our intelligence and pre-emptive capacities remained quite wanting. Because of systematic intelligence failures our people are made to suffer preventable losses. This must end. It’s disappointing that we seem to have resorted to verbal condemnations of al-Shabaab…their tactics are well known. We must focus further on action. With better coordination among AMISOM forces and between AMISOM and SNA we can again turn the tables against al-Shabaab and remove their ability to pose any real threat to civilian or military targets.

Thanks to the council’s anti-piracy resolutions, we have seen almost no incidents of piracy for the last 2 years in Somalia’s water. While the result is reassuring, there’s need for sustainability. There’s need to protect the livelihood of the coastal communities long ravaged by piracy activities along Somalia’s coast. Somalia needs the support of the Council on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in Somalia waters.

Lastly, poverty and lack of economic prosperity plays a major role in appeal to extremism and terrorism. Uneducated, under-employed, and unemployed youth continues to be a ticking time-bomb for Somalia, time that we cannot afford to waste. Investment in Somalia, in supporting job creation initiatives, education, vocational training, and other basic infrastructure development programs will lead to true sustainability. There are examples in the region to draw from that show appeal to violent extremism decreases with individual and/or societal prosperity. On our part, as government, we are putting in place the necessary legal frameworks to attract and guarantee investment.

Ones again, I would like to thank the council and its leadership for promoting world peace and prosperity in general and for its continued support to the people of Somalia.

Thank you.

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PM OMAR ABDIRASHID