A conference on Somalia was held today (May 31st) in Yokohama, Japan, organized by the Government of Japan and the African Union. It aimed to compliment the various initiatives taken on the future of Somalia and was attended by President Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud of Somalia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of Egypt, Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra of the AU Peace and Security Council, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD and representatives of international partners.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called upon the international community to support the Government of Somalia on the basis of its six pillar policy and with respect to its ownership of the process. He expressed Japan's readiness to engage Somalia bilaterally as well as providing multilateral support particularly in the areas of security, economic revitalization and the provision of basic services. President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud of Somalia emphasized the crucial role of security as a fundamental prerequisite to development. He said the international community should focus on long term reconstruction rather than short term humanitarian support. He said public finance, justice reform and security were his top priorities and called on the international community for support for capacity building, to attract Foreign Direct Investment and for food security through sustainable agriculture.
Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said the conference should help identify modalities in capacity building, empowerment of people, youth education, public finance, management and provision of basic services. He emphasized the gains made by AMISOM and Ethiopian forces could only be sustained by the building of a robust Somali defence force, noting that Al-Shabaab, though significantly downgraded, still posed a threat. A statement from UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon's office said the UN welcomed the continuing engagement between the Somali government and IGAD and thanked Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya for their role. It underlined the need to maintain momentum of state building and respect for Somali government priorities.
Prime Minister Hailemariam said Japan could do a lot for post-war reconstruction in Somalia and reiterated IGAD's support for Somalia's stability, emphasizing the need for international cooperation to support the establishment of local administration and delivery of public services. President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti stressed the need for renewed commitment from the international community; William Ruto detailed Kenya's support for the training of Somali National forces and appealed for assistance for the repatriation of refugees; Prime Minister Qandil said development and security go hand in hand and detailed Egypt's support for the justice sector, police, health and education. Turkey announced that it had pledged further funding for the rebuilding of the National Army, and the US representative stressed the importance of demobilizing militias, integrating ex-Al-Shabaab fighters and rebuilding the army.