On their third group visit to Somalia's Federal Member States (FMSs), representatives from some of the country's main partners today emphasized the need for Somali leaders to remain in dialogue with one another, as well as continue in the spirit of consensus which has recently seen progress on preparation for national elections.
"We continue to urge all of Somalia's leaders to remain steadfast in their commitment to collaborating with each other as the electoral preparations progress," the UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, said in remarks to the media in Garowe, the capital of Puntland.
"At the same time, we believe that the resumption of such dialogue, on a regular basis, can help resolve outstanding issues," he added.
The UN official was speaking at a joint media encounter with Puntland's President Said Abdullahi Deni, with whom he and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Ambassador Francisco Madeira; the European Union's (EU) Ambassador to Somalia, Nicolas Berlanga; and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)'s Head of Mission for Somalia, Jamal Ahmed Ibrahim, had just met.
The visit today to Puntland was the third group visit to an FMS by AU, EU, IGAD and UN representatives in the past two months. It follows on from visits to South West State and Galmudug, with visits to the remaining FMSs - Jubaland and Hirshabelle - planned in the near future.
In his media remarks, made on behalf of the visiting delegation, the UN Deputy Special Representative said the importance of strengthening relations between the Federal Government of Somalia and the FMSs had been discussed in the meeting with President Deni.
He noted that the international partners had been encouraged by the revitalization of dialogue between the Federal Government and the FMSs in recent months and highlighted President Deni's "active role" in them.
Somali's federal and FMS leaders began a series of meetings in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug, in July and August, which led to consultative meetings in Mogadishu in September and October and at which agreements on the national electoral model were reached.
"The dialogue and spirit of consensus which yielded these agreements need to continue in order to ensure that the national elections remain on track and are anchored in transparency, fairness and inclusivity," Mr. Zenenga said.
While highlighting the benefits of regular dialogue as beneficial to resolving any outstanding issues, the UN official also stressed the need for the electoral agreements to remain in place as had been decided.
"We wish to emphasize that the agreed electoral model should not be re-opened but has to be implemented in an acceptable, credible and transparent manner," Mr. Zenenga said.
"We stress that this will include ensuring that the 30 per cent quota for women in the parliamentary elections and the implementing bodies is achieved," he continued, "and that any concerns regarding the composition of the delegate selection committees, the electoral committees, the Somaliland committee and Gedo are resolved by consensus, in a manner that ensures that the committees are non-partisan and that allows for fair and diverse representation."
He also expressed the delegation's hope that all of Somalia's FMSs and their regional assemblies will begin preparations for the elections of the members of the Upper House of the Federal Parliament as per the number of seats allocated to them.
Committee and cyclone
Turning specifically to Puntland, the UN Deputy Special Representative said that the AU, EU, IGAD and UN hoped the FMS would soon nominate the eight members of its own electoral committee, as well as engage with the Federal Government to reach agreement on the next steps regarding the country's Provisional Federal Constitution.
In reference to Cyclone Gati - one of the strongest storms to ever hit Somalia - Mr. Zenenga said the international partners had commended President Deni on his efforts to respond to its impact, after it made landfall on Puntland's coastline on 22 November.
According to a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), local authorities estimate that 180,000 people were affected by the cyclone, with 42,000 displaced from their homes. In addition, at least eight people were killed and some 11,500 households affected, along with livelihoods disrupted by the destruction of fishing gear, livestock killed and the flooding of agricultural land and crops.
"The United Nations in Somalia and other partners are actively engaged in joint assessments of the damage and providing material assistance," Mr. Zenenga said.