The top U.N. political envoy to Somalia has urged all concerned parties in the Horn of Africa nation to ensure that the country's political transition process is completed before a U.N.-set deadline expires in two weeks time.
In a press release issued late on Monday, Augustine Mahiga, Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the U.N. Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), welcomed the consensus reached at the meeting of the signatories of the 'Roadmap for Ending the Transition' over the weekend.
Although he praised the final communique issued after the key meeting held to resolve outstanding issues ahead of the end of Somalia's current transitional period, Mahiga expressed concerns at the time it took to resolve key issues.
"Time is pressing. The process cannot afford any more delays. Now that these discussions are done I urge all parties to focus all their energy on completing the remaining tasks on time, as they have publicly committed to do," Mahiga said in the UNPOS news release.
After decades of instability, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with the country's Transitional Federal Institutions currently implementing the 'Roadmap for the End of Transition' devised last September. The Roadmap spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on August 20.
The meeting of the signatories held over the weekend was dominated by six issues, including the consolidation and publication of the traditional elders list, selection of the 275 members of Parliament, integrity and protection of the technical selection committee, procedures for election by the Parliament of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker as well as the President, and the current political situation in Galmaduga central region of the country.
According to UNPOS, participants reaffirmed the need and the determination to end the transition on August 20, and issued "a stern warning to end the intimidation and corrupt practices that have emerged around the nomination of Parliamentary candidates" in a statement issued after their meeting.
They also stressed on the need for the Technical Selection Committee, assisted by international observers, to remain "independent, objective, and ethical in their work." They also entrusted the responsibility of security and protection of the Technical Selection Committee to UNPOS and the U.N.-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Mahiga affirmed the importance of the work of the Technical Selection Committee and said: "Since some of the signatories are now candidates, there is also a need to insulate and protect both the traditional elders and the technical selection committee from all new and incumbent political aspirants to allow them to complete this most critical task of vetting the names of the new parliamentarians."
Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Its current U.N.-backed interim government set up in 2004 is in the process of transferring power to a new government selected by the 825-member National Constituent Assembly (NCA) made up of representatives of all Somali clans.
Until recently, Islamist militant groups, including al-Shabaab, controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia. But in recent months, Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers, have managed to seize control of most regions, except some pockets that are under rebel control. Nevertheless, the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in capital Mogadishu.
by RTT Staff Writer
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