World Leaders Focus on Somalia’s Future at London Conference

Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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World leaders are in London for a one-day conference designed to help stabilize Somalia.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the conference is not meant to impose international solutions on Somalia. But he said the world will “pay a price” if it fails to help the Horn of Africa nation recover from violence, famine and poverty.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the 40-nation conference that Somalia is at a “critical” point. She said the world must help Somalia establish a stable government while keeping up the pressure on the al-Qaida-linked insurgent group al-Shabab.

Clinton added the international community would not extend the mandate of Somalia's weak transitional government beyond August, saying it is “past time” for Somalia to have permanent, representative leadership.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that before August, Somalia needs a new constitution, a smaller parliament, and elections for president and parliamentary elections.

Somalia has endured two decades of civil war and poverty since the fall of its last stable government in 1991. More recently, it has struggled to deal with a devastating famine, as well as pirates and al-Shabab, which is seen as a threat to regional security.

The militants control large portions of Somalia but have been losing ground to offensives by Ethiopian, Kenyan, and African Union troops.

Clinton said the U.S. supports all Somalis who denounce violence, but said Washington is “adamantly opposed” to negotiating with al-Shabab. She said Washington is working to impose sanctions against all who seek to undermine Somali security or who delay the political transition.

She also announced an additional $64 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Horn of Africa.

British PM David Cameron, 2 acts

Act 1: “In a country where there is so little hope, where

there is chaos and violence and terrorism, pirates are

disrupting vital trade routes and kidnapping tourists.

Young minds are being poisoned by radicalism, breeding

terrorism that is threatening not just Somalia but the

whole world. If the rest of us just sit back and look on,

we will pay a price for doing so. So as an international

community it is in all our interests to try and help the

Somali people to address these problems.''

Act 2: “Crucially across the country, al-Shabab are loosing

the support of ordinary Somalis because they tried to stop

vital food supplies from reaching their fellow countrymen.

The final piece of momentum and the most important piece of

momentum is the steps that the Somalis themselves are

taking to ensure there is proper representative and

accountable government.''

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 2 acts

Act 1: “International help must be well coordinated to

supported the national security and stabilization plan. As

the security institutions take shape the country needs to

disarm. We are far from our goal of eliminating piracy and

kidnappings – some 246 international seafarers are still

being held, many of them from developing countries.

International partners are helping but we need security

deterrents and precautions. We also need to give Somalis

real opportunities to find alternative livelihoods and

build a better future.''

Act 2: “In the face of military pressure al-Shabab militants

have retreated from large areas. Now, we must show the

people there how peace can take hold. Courageous Somalis

are ready to work with us to achieve this.''

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (Somali), 1 act

Act 1: [English translation] “We believe that there is a great danger with the aim

to undermine peace and security, whether that be in our

country or on an international level. As you know, there is

a saying that one match is capable of ruining a whole

forest. We have to double our efforts so that we can indeed

get over the al-Shabab phenomenon because their remaining

in our country represents a threat to peace and security.''

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 5 acts

Act 1:

“The position of the United States is straight forward.

Attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken

status quo will not be tolerated. We will encourage the

international community to impose further sanctions

including travel bans and asset freezes on people inside

and outside the TFG who seek to undermine Somalia's peace

and security or to delay or even prevent the political


Act 2: “But time is of the essence and I want to be clear. The

international community will not support an extension of

the TFG's mandate beyond the date set in the roadmap –

August 20th.''

Act 3: “Now we must keep the pressure on al Shabab, so that

its grip on Somalia continues to weaken. The UN Security

Council vote on Wednesday to increase AMISOM troop ceiling

by nearly half and expand its mandate significantly is an

excellent step.''

Act 4: “We must focus on two dimensions — accelerating

political progress and continuing to improve security.''

Act 5: “We must continue to fight piracy which is still

rampant off Somalia's shores. The U.S. supports programmes

that strengthen the Somali judicial system so it can tackle

tackle piracy from on shore. We are considering development

projects in coastal communities to create alternatives for

young men.''