27 January 2013

Somalia President Calls for Lifting of Arms Embargo At African Union Summit

Addis Ababa — The president of the Somali federal government Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has called for lifting the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia at an African Union summit, Garowe Online reports.

President Hassan addressed the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, saying that Somalia on the road to recovering from decades of lawlessness.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I confirm Somalia being at your table today not as a liability but as a partner. Let us celebrate this historic moment as we all took part in helping Somalia return to the community of nations," said President Hassan.

The Somali president said: "There are many obstacles along the road and we will see setbacks. But we have achieved security gains with the assistance of AMISOM, which is fundamental to the security in southern Somalia."

President Hassan thanked the AU for its role in Somalia, saying: "Our joint campaign against extremism and piracy in Somalia is not over. AMISOM must be strong and well equipped."

Continuing, the Somali president indicated that the war-torn country needed help to rebuild its institutions and restore normalcy.

"Somalia has come a long way and today Somalia needs the world's help. We request lifting of the arms embargo so we can rebuild our national forces," said President Hassan.

Speaking of Somali refugees, the president said: "Let me discuss the issue of refugees and their return home. We are committed to the return of our exiled communities back to their home country of Somalia."

President Hassan especially thanked Somalia's neighboring countries for hosting Somali refugees, while appealing on the neighboring countries to "be patient" and suggesting a tripartite group bringing together representatives of Somalia, neighboring countries and the U.N., to address the issue of finding a long-term solution to the Somali refugee crisis.

The AU summit in Addis Ababa focused primarily on the situation in Mali, where French troops are fighting alongside Malian soldiers to retake regions of northern Mali seized by Islamist militants.

In September 2012, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected as President of the Somali Federal Republic, at the end of a political process that included the adoption of a Somali Federal Constitution and the nomination of a new federal parliament.

Since the country's last central government collapsed in 1991, Somalia has been awash with weapons in the hands of individuals, clan militia and an assortment of armed groups. Despite the 1992 U.N. Security Council Resolution 733, which imposed a general and complete arms embargo on Somalia, military weapons have regularly entered Somalia from various points of origin, at times with the complicity of local and international actors.

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