International Representatives Discuss Elections, Security and Economic Issues in Baidoa
On a visit to Somalia’s South West State today, representatives of some of the country’s key international partners highlighted the importance of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States working together for the good of all Somalis. “We are encouraged by the revitalization of the dialogue between the Federal Government and all of the Federal Member States. This has included the series of meetings in Dhusamareb in recent months and consultative meetings in Mogadishu in September during which the agreement on the elections model was reached,” said the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan. “We appreciate President Abdiaziz’s leadership at many stages of this process,” he added, at a brief press conference in the interim capital of Baidoa following a group meeting with the President of South West State, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed ‘Laftagareen.’ The UN envoy traveled to Baidoa with 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 Martinez; and, from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Head of Mission, Jamal Ahmed Ibrahim. In his remarks, Mr. Swan said the results of the Dhusamareb and Mogadishu meetings demonstrated what can be achieved when Somalia’s leaders come together in a spirit of consensus and collaboration. “We urge the leaders to continue with the preparations for the national elections so that they are underpinned by transparency, fairness and inclusivity,” the UN Special Representative said. “This applies to all aspects of the electoral process, such as the formation of federal- and state-level independent electoral committees, the Dispute Resolution Committee and Elections Security Committee.” Mr. Swan also noted the importance of close collaboration to ensure security around the elections, and recognized the efforts of the South West State administration in this regard, despite persistent threats from Al Shabaab. The partners also encouraged Somalia’s leaders to extend their cooperation further in areas such as the constitutional review and other processes that can help advance national priorities, democratic reforms and essential freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. “These are all key components of a lively democratic system that will allow Somali voices to be heard,” Mr. Swan, adding that the AU, EU, IGAD and UN will continue to stand with the people of South West State as they build a better future. On the economic front, the international partners recognized the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruption of economic growth in South West State, and also underscored the importance revenue collection and good governance for the future development of the state.