Somalia: UN Senior Official Calls for Widespread Support for Somali Government Reform Efforts

A senior United Nations official today stressed the need for widespread support from the international community for the new Somali Government to help it succeed in its reform efforts.

The Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said some the biggest challenges for Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud are to assert his authority across the entire country and to grow relations with its neighbouring countries.

"[Mr. Mohamud's] challenge is to establish authority in all of Somalia and I think it's important for the international community to support this desire to create a well-functioning federal state," Mr. Eliasson told reporters during a briefing on his recent trip to the Somalia Conference in London earlier this week.

"The second challenge for Somalia is to develop a 'neighbourhood' relation that is a positive one," he said, adding that the relationship between Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia is crucial for Somalia's development.

Mr. Eliasson, who met with the heads of State from all three countries, said he was encouraged by the growing dialogue among them, and said he hoped this would lead to peaceful regional context.

"I was encouraged by the growing dialogue between these three countries and I would hope that we would see it developing with a strengthened direction of a well-functioning Somalia supported by the new structure of the UN after the Security Council decision two weeks ago, and also a relationship with neighbours that will also help Somalia continue on the reform path."

The conference, co-hosted by Mr. Mohamud and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, took place during what participants called in the final communiqué that capped the event, "a pivotal moment" for Somalia, as it rebuilds from two decades of factional fighting that followed the 1991 ousting of President Siad Barre. The event also raised some $300 million for Somalia's security sector.

In 2011, Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents retreated from Mogadishu, and last year, new Government institutions emerged, as the country ended a transitional phase towards setting up a permanent, democratically-elected Government.

Mr. Eliasson said the conference was a show of solidarity and support of the new leadership in Somalia, but noted absence of the delegations of the regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

"We hope that all factions and all clans of Somalia would see it in their interest to support the reform efforts of the President who has been selected by all clans and all parts of the country at an earlier stage," he said.

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