February 25, 2009

RETURNING TO NORMALCY:

Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Michel Abu Najm, 2/25/09, Asharq Al-Awsat

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you have a plan for normalizing the situation in Somalia as acts of violence and piracy continue to be launched from the Somali coasts?

[Ahmad] We have started taking bold steps to address this problem. We have set up committees to be in charge of security in the capital. Calm is returning to Mogadishu's neighborhoods and to many other parts of the country. The government's plan is to give the security issue absolute priority and provide humanitarian aid to the needy and to those affected by both wars and drought. In tandem with these steps, we want the government's work to be transparent, and to keep in contact with the other parties in Somalia and with the outside world, and to focus on fostering our relations with the Arab world.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How can you move on in Somalia as there is no central administration or state, and there is no security, and government authority is absent in large parts of the country?

[Ahmad] The problems of the absence of administration and the collapse of the state will be solved by our efforts. The new government contains competent cadres. I believe these cadres will push for restructuring the state and rebuilding its institutions. In addition, we will have in the government a security team that will be tasked with establishing peace in the country. The government has begun working along the lines I have mentioned. As for the Somali parties that did not approve of the government formation, our response is that we will be open to dialogue. Efforts and mediation attempts are being made by Somali religious scholars, tribal chiefs, notables, and by the religious scholars of the Islamic world. All these efforts seek to achieve the sole goal of persuading the Somali parties to lay down their arms and opt for negotiation and conviction.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2009 7:21 AM
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