February 22, 2013


No going back (HIS EXCELLENCY ABDI FARAH SHIRDON PRIME MINISTER OF SOMALIA 22 February 2013 Subjects:International politics Economics Democracy and government Culture Conflict Civil society Somalia, 2/21/13, OpenDemocracy)

As my government approaches its 100th day in office, I would like to share some of our recent achievements and the challenges we face.

To begin with the most dramatic development, security is our people's greatest concern, our number one priority and our number one success. Only recently Mogadishu was close to being completely overrun by the foreign-led, Al Qaeda-allied Al Shabaab. Thanks to our brave fighters and those of Amisom, the insurgency is on its knees, our city has been liberated and, to quote a recent report, "the sound of hammers has replaced that of guns" as Somalis return to rebuild homes and businesses, lives and careers.

In December we removed 60 illegal checkpoints that were extorting more than $1m a month in bribes from innocent civilians in Mogadishu, replacing them with police and security forces. The story doesn't end in the capital. Since the end of last year, we have liberated the towns of Kismayo, Marca, Jowhar, Wanlaweyn, Janale and Awdeghle towns, where we are working hard to develop representative local authorities and deliver local services.

Talking of representative government, our political institutions, like other organisations in Somalia, are in their infancy. How could this be otherwise in a country eviscerated by more than two decades of conflict? Yet after eight years of difficult transitional authority, we managed the move to a fully-fledged government smoothly and entirely peacefully, after what a recent UN report on Somalia called "the most transparent and representative" election in more than 20 years, the first held in Somalia during that period.

We now have a lean, effective Cabinet - how many countries in the world can boast of having 10 ministries? Then there is a robust and lively legislature, which has already made its mark under the excellent leadership of Speaker Jawari, who presided over 46 sessions in the first four months of the parliament's life. Fifteen sub-committees will be holding the government to account in the spirit of parliamentary democracy. A permanent Human Rights Commission will address the troubling record of human rights abuses, especially the killing of journalists and sexual violence against women.

To judicial reform, security turnaround and political development, we must add the beginnings of economic recovery. Poverty and unemployment, the natural legacy of war, are widespread in Somalia. We are making progress by creating a conducive environment for economic recovery. We have instituted strict public finance management rules and are steadily establishing transparent and accountable public finances. Tax collection is a priority that will lay the foundations of a normal, functioning economy. We have energised the Central Bank.

Economic growth will come from a combination of the public and private sectors.

Posted by at February 22, 2013 5:28 AM

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