News Analysis: Stabilizing Somalia provides new hope for citizens

2013-01-26 19:46:55 GMT2013-01-27 03:46:55(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

By Ronald Ssekandi

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The security situation in Somalia is one of the top issues on the agenda of the African leaders when they convene here for the 20th African Union (AU) summit starting on Sunday.

Augustine Mahiga, the top UN envoy in Somalia, told Xinhua in an interview here on Saturday on the sidelines of the AU summit that Somalia is now stabilizing, providing new hope to its people who have suffered decades of war.

He believes the election of a new government headed by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has put Somalia on a new international status which can allow Somalia to claim full membership not only in international organizations, but also in regional bodies, as well as financial institutions.

"Coming in of a new government has ended the stalemate in the crisis in Somalia which was the longest in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

"This is the first time that a government has been elected through a democratic process that has also brought in a Constitution. Somalia has never had a Constitution for over 40 years when its independence Constitution was abolished by the military regime in 1969," he added.

He aired the view that with these new changes backed by military successes at the battle front by the AU peace keeping troops and the Somali army against Al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab, more countries will help the Horn of African country to get back on its feet.

The U. S. government on Jan. 17 recognized the Somali government in an unseen move since 1991, when the United States left Somalia after its troops were killed by militias.

Mahiga holds confidence that the success by the AU troops and the Somali force would bring about more political and territorial space for the peace process.

The stabilizing Somalia is opening the gate for political outreach and reconciliation to all populations that were outside the main political transition period.

Even Al-Shabaab can also use the stabilization to engage the government politically, instead of fighting it militarily, according to the official.

"Stabilization also means establishment of local administration units in accordance to the interim Constitution. The relations between the center and the regions will be articulated and be part of the peace process," Mahiga said.

In his opinion, the situation could also create an opportunity for the country to develop its security sector, including a new army, police and the integration of all the militia groups.

Mahiga described the new government as having all the symbols and trappings of a representative government, which the transitional government did not have.

Mohamud was elected in September 2012 to replace Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the leader of a Transitional Federal Government.

The African leaders will be briefed on the security and political situation in Somalia at the summit.

It will also be the first time for Mohamud to attend the summit as the Somali head of state.

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