Amb. Ali Said Faqi
During his recent visit in Brussels, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre’s top agenda included addressing the Peace and Security Council of the European Union. His historic speech covered many fronts including youth empowerment, geopolitics, and economic, security and political sector reforms undertaken by his government. The PM began his speech by thanking the EU, for the extensive support they have been rendering to the people of Somalia. On behalf of the Somali people, I thank the EU for standing with us through our most difficult times; your support on peace, security as well as development cooperation has been unparalleled. The PM highlighted that in the current global perplexity; from the Sahel to Somalia, the EU is seen as a strategic partner of choice that is determined, reliable and honest.
The PM underscored that Somalia is changing, its new generation has discovered a newfound voice. 70% of our population, who are youth are now our driving force. Because of the technological advancements, they are more in touch with the world and aspire for the lives like any other youth across the world. They stand for democracy, freedom of speech, equality, access to power and accountability. They are against corruption and the culture of impunity, they want to see equal access to resources, and are staunch defenders of human rights. The PM continued reiterating that the youth are strongly emerging as a new force and as the new majority in Somalia. And because of this demographic shift, we expect Somalia to be the engine for growth in the future.
The PM emphasized that Somalia is the gateway to Africa and the Middle East and has historic links with the Gulf States. Nevertheless, the dispute between the Gulf Member States has been difficult for Somalia. My government is committed to engaging with all the partners in the Gulf countries and the Middle East and with our neighbors as well. The PM pointed out that Somalia needs more friends at this critical juncture.
The PM said that early in our mandate, we made a strategic choice to reform our economy. Economic reform has been our greatest unifying factor and has thus become an effective tool to reform our nation.
More concretely, the reforms and the IMF’s SMP has become a tool to fight corruption, a tool to change the old political culture, a tool to engage with the youth, to create hope, a tool to provide dividends. A tool to keep our business community engaged and motivated. And finally, our Debt Relief path is the ultimate tool that commits our nation to a certain strict and proper direction for many years to come. He said this will require current and future leaders of our country to engage substantially with the EU, the IMF, and other IFI’s on a long-term plan. The PM noted that without EU support, Somalia wouldn’t have made current achievements.
Our most significant reforms are the Security Sector Reform. This is an area where we have achieved the unthinkable but has been less quantifiable said the PM. What has been unthinkable 2 years ago, is the normal way of doing business today. The PM reiterated that his government has targeted to reform three areas; the Leadership of the Security Forces, the Personnel themselves and their Financial Management procedures.
On Leadership, through an open and transparent interview process, we recruited from within the Somali National Security Forces, commanders of critical directorates; and other personnel as the initial step towards reforming the forces.
Following our successful payroll reform, we are now on HR reform said the PM, creating both digital and hard copy files of all forces on a new HRM system.
On the recent review conducted to our financial procedures and management of assets, the forces are now found to be more open, accountable and transparent in the utilization of the resources afforded to them. The PM eloquently pointed out that by reforming these three key areas, we have managed to conduct extensive operations, implement transition and also at the same time implement the National Security Architecture, towards able, affordable and inclusive forces.
As we advance on reforming our security sector, Al Shabaab has taken the opposite direction noted the PM. They have begun transforming the organization into a criminal network. This evolution we believe will aid our fight, as it distances them from their hardcore supporters. This is an indication of our success in the future and the prospects for their defeat said the PM.
On Political Reform, the PM specified that his government’s greatest achievement is the change of mindset. He said, the synergy between my President and I, has been historically impossible to achieve because of the structural issues within our Provisional Constitution. We have also managed to expand this to the work with both houses of Parliament.
The PM echoed that his government is working incrementally towards one person one vote, to move decision making from the current political system to the common man and woman in the street. We developed the electoral model in record time, which has been in parliament since April this year. For our electoral process, we are very well aware that it will require us to engage with all stakeholders, both houses of parliament, opposition leaders, Federal Member States, the wider political groups, civil society, and other relevant actors. Because of this complexity in seeking consensus, we need to manage it in a transparent and cohesive manner.
The PM noted that the principle of holding elections on time and the peaceful and orderly transfer of power is one that should be respected by everyone. We want to ensure a peaceful election and peaceful transfer of power, and we intend to fulfill our obligations.
On the overall political debate, due to the demographical changes and the extensive reforms across the spectrum, the nation is changing and that will truly expand the political debate needed. The PM said that while there are some differences with some federal member state leaders, we will continue with the dialogue and find a solution that serves the best interest of the nation.
The PM noted that one debate which will have at some point be concluded is the debate of the reviewed constitution. This will in the future make the work of the country smoother, with clear roles and responsibilities and a shared understanding of the long-term strategy of the nation.
Somalia has achieved a lot over the past 2 and a half years with EU support; As our strategic partner, we are committed to updating you on our joint achievements but also to openly and honestly share with you the challenges we face said the PM.
After close to 30 years of instability, the challenges are still many and they are real. We will be upfront and transparent in sharing them and we will seek your support in confronting them.
Looking ahead at Somalia’s future. My appeal for you is to view this through the lenses of those who are the majority of the nation, whose hopes and aspirations are a better Somalia. The PM warned that we should NOT see it through the lenses of those who live in the past, the vested interests and the profiteers of the war economy.