Top UN and Africa Union (AU) envoys in Somalia have lauded progress made so far since the country pulled itself out of a prolonged civil war, saying the Horn of Africa nation is on the right path to stability.
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia, Francisco Madeira and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia Michael Keating also said separately the upcoming elections will help steer the country into prosperity.
“I strongly believe that Somalia is on the right path to becoming a peaceful and stable nation, where citizens enjoy freedom and contribute to the nation’s prosperity,” Madeira said in a statement received on Saturday as Somalia marked 56 years of independence.
He said since the establishment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2007, a lot has been achieved with the help of Somalis who want to live in a peaceful and prosperous nation.
“The joint operations conducted by AMISOM and Somali security forces, for example, have liberated large swathes of the country, which were hitherto under the control of terrorist militants Al-Shabaab,” Madeira said.
He said AMISOM, the government and regional states are working closely to stabilize and restore the rule of law in these liberated areas.
“To this end, AMISOM has so far trained thousands of police officers, who have since been deployed to various parts of the country to maintain law and order,” Madeira said.
The envoy said this year’s independent celebration which was marked on Friday is special for Somalis as they not only remember the enormous sacrifice made by their forefathers in the independence struggle against colonialism, but also the progress made so far since the country pulled itself out of a prolonged civil war.
“I congratulate all Somalis who have continued to work tirelessly to make Somalia great. Those who have sacrificed their lives to ensure that the country is stabilized and that residents enjoy the peace they yearn for,” said Madeira.
He lauded the Somali leadership for setting clear timeliness for the electoral process during the just concluded National Leadership Forum held in Baidoa.
The electoral process agreed upon by the leadership will herald a new dawn in politics as the country moves towards universal suffrage and achieving gender parity in leadership.
In his statement, UN envoy Keating praised the entrepreneurship and perseverance of the Somali people as their country emerges from decades of uncertainty and conflict.
“The last 56 years have been turbulent for Somalis. Their extraordinary political journey continues. Unfortunately, insecurity remains a major problem. But Somalia continues to make remarkable progress in so many fields, political, security and economic, defying even many Somalis’ expectations,” Keating said.
The UN envoy praised the work of Somalia’s security forces and AMISOM to counter the menace of violent extremism and underscored the crucial role they continue to play.
“Strengthening the capability of Somali National Security Forces is essential, not only to partner with AMISOM but also as part of Somalia’s state building objectives,” he said.
Keating said the last few years have seen the gradual emergence of a federal state, of national as well as regional institutional capacity, and of laws and plans that provide a basis for meeting Somalis’ expectations.
“Progress is tangible, and confidence is growing. But it is still vulnerable,” said Keating, noting that the overwhelming majority of Somalis have rejected violence as a means of resolving differences, but that Al-Shabaab remains a threat, especially to civilians.