Weekly Press Conference on the Progress of the Government

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The Minister of Information, Mustafa Duhulow, today addressed the media, providing an update on the progress of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) over the last week. The Minister discussed various issues: reconciliation conferences in Kismayo and Baidoa; progress on the census initiative and in education; the London security event; and Operation Indian Ocean.

The Minister of Information began the reconciliation conference in Kismayo: “As part of the Addis Ababa Agreement between the Jubba Administration and the Federal Government of Somalia, a reconciliation conference was held in Kismayo on 16 September 2014. The aim of the conference was to engage with the public so that they feel that they are genuinely involved in the decision making process. Attendees of the conference were key stakeholders in Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions and it is expected that the modalities on power sharing and the establishment of the Federal Unit of Jubba will soon be finalised. Representatives of the cabinet and the parliament as well as observers from UNSOM, the EU, IGAD and others were present. H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Government, opened the conference by stressing the importance of reconciliation. The President said that there was a long process that led us to this conference and we should maintain this unity for the remainder of the process. The President reiterated the urgent need to welcome all those who are still outside the process. The President praised the role of the Jubba Administration and encouraged them to continue the path of peaceful negotiation, compromise and understanding. The President stated that the Federal Government is committed to implementing the Addis Ababa Agreement and representatives from the Ministry of Interior & Federal Affairs will remain with you throughout the conference for the purposes of facilitation and ensuring that the process is inclusive of all segments of the society. Our ultimate goal is the formation of a new federal unit.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the reconciliation conference in Baidoa: “On 14 September 2014, the Speaker of the Parliament opened a reconciliation conference in Baidoa for all stakeholders in Bay, Bakol & Lower Shabelle regions with a view to establishing a new Federal Unit, the South West State of Somalia. The Prime Minister, ministers, MPs, the technical committee and all segments of the society in those 3 regions were present at the conference. H.E. Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the Prime Minister, thanked the Speaker of the Parliament for his efforts to bring all key stakeholders on board in this conference. The Prime Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to establishing the South West State of Somalia. During the reconciliation conference the Speaker of the Parliament emphasized the importance of compromise, forgiveness and understanding. The conference is expected to last 45 days in which all outstanding issues should be solved including the power sharing agreement and the formation of South West State of Somalia.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the progress of the census initiative: “On 18 September 2014 the Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation published a preliminary report on the progress of the census initiative in the country. UNFPA has been assisting the Ministry of Planning with this initiative. The census is critical to the development of the country and in particular for the implementation of Vision 2016, as the country is expected to carry out a referendum, local elections and general elections by 2016. H.E. Said Abdullahi Dani, the Minister of Planning & International Cooperation, stated that the process is going very well and that he is very hopeful that the country will soon conduct a census. H.E. Ridwan Hersi Mohamed, the Acting Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Religious Affairs, spoke at the event in Mogadishu and emphasised the importance of the initiative for the people and for the country. He continued to say that there can be no progress and prosperity without knowing the exact numbers of the population, as the census can help government institutions to plan ahead in terms of humanitarian assistance and other development projects in the country. So far the preliminary report suggests that people inside the country number around 12,360,000. The Ministry also aims to carry out a census of Somalis in the Diaspora.”

The Minister of Information stressed the importance of education in Somalia: “The Federal Government of Somalia is committed to providing quality education for all children of school age. The Somali National University is open for the first time in 24 years in Somalia. On 18 September 2014 around 480 students sat the Somali National University entry exams. H.E. Mohamed Ahmed Kulan, the Deputy Minister of Culture & Higher Education and the Chairman of the Somali National University Dr Mohamed Ahmed Jimale were present during the exam in order to oversee the process and to highlight the success of students taking the exams in order to proceed to higher education. The University will initially have 6 faculties. On 18 September also the Mayor of Mogadishu, who is also the Governor of Banadir, Hassan Mohamed Hussein (Mungab) opened newly refurbished classrooms in the Mohamud Mire School in Mogadishu. Mohamud Mire School is located in Waaberi district and is one of a number of government owned schools that provide free education for all. The Federal Government of Somalia appeals to all parents to enroll their children in school so that children can study and became useful members of their families as well as contributing to the overall development of the nation.”

The Minister of Information thanked UK for the leadership it has shown with regard to Somalia: “On 18 September 2014, H.E. Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Somalia, led a delegation that attended a security event in London organized by the UK Government. The event took place at Lancaster House and was co-chaired by UK and Somalia. The aim of the event was to galvanize the international community’s efforts to support the Somali National Army (SNA) so that in the longer term Somalis will be able to achieve peace and stability in Somalia. The Ministers of Defense and Information as well as the Joint Chief of Somali National Army were amongst the delegates. The Federal Government presented a coherent plan for the SNA in terms of restructuring, reform and the integration of militias, while maintaining the measures of the arms embargo, human rights and the strong foundations of the SNA. One of the outcomes of the event included strong support to the SNA’s plans until 2019 with donor communities being called upon to increase their efforts and their financial support to SNA. Somalia and UK will work together in order to follow up on the outcomes and pledges made during the event. US Government pledged an additional support of 5 million US dollars to UNSOA Trust Fund in order to support SNA. The Federal Government of Somalia praised and thanked UK and US Governments for their unwavering support to Somalia.”

The Minister of Information finally spoke on the success of Operation Indian Ocean: “Operation Indian Ocean is progressing well as Somali forces with the support of AMISOM continue to gain ground from terrorist groups. On 13 September Somali forces and AMISOM liberated villages of Moqokori, Yasooman and Aboorrey in Hiiraan region. There was no resistance from Al-Shabaab who are still reeling from the death of their leader, Godane, and who left those villages when they saw our forces approaching. Local people in these villages welcomed our forces with jubilation. Colonel Ali Duh Abdi Mahadale, police officer in Hiiraan region, confirmed that units of the Somali National Army along with AMISOM forces have now occupied all these villages. Abdifatah Hassan Afrah, the Governor of Hiiraan region, declared that most of the areas in Hiiraan region are now free from terrorists groups except for a few small pockets which will soon be cleared. The Federal Government is committed to the fight against terrorists groups like Al-Shabaab so that local people can see the benefits of the peace dividend and have the opportunity to take part in the rebuilding and the prosperity of the country. The Federal Government thanks its friends and allies that have continuously supported the effort to bring peace and stability in Somalia.”

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