The European Union on Tuesday hailed the formation of the new Federal Parliament of Somalia as a major "milestone" in the country's efforts to end the eight-year-long transitional period.
The European bloc also noted the convening of the new parliament on Monday marked the first time in twenty years that Somalis have met in Somalia to decide the future of their country.
In a statement issued by her office, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton praised the Committee of Elders and the Technical Selection Committee for their work thus far in nominating and selecting Members of Parliament in accordance with the Garowe Principles.
"We urge all the participants of the political process in Somalia to continue their work in the spirit of peace, compromise and dialogue so that Somalia and all Somalis can move forward with a sense of clarity within a new political framework," Ashton said.
She also congratulated Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Somalia, for his tireless efforts and paid tribute "to all those Somalis and African Union forces who have sacrificed so much to create the conditions of security in which the Somali people can fulfill their aspiration for a life of peace, stability and prosperity."
"We are confident of the positive momentum created in recent weeks, and we look forward to the completion of the transition process in the next few days with the Parliament reaching its full membership, appointing a President and completing the other remaining tasks," she added.
Somalia had been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process in recent months, with the country's transitional federal institutions implementing the 'Roadmap for the End of Transition' devised last September. The Roadmap outlined priority measures to be carried out before the transitional governing arrangements end on August 20.
EU's response came a day after Somalia's first formal parliament in more than two decades was sworn into office on Monday. The new parliament held its first ever meeting later in the day, but failed to meet the deadline set by the international community for completing the transition process by electing a new Speaker, Deputy Speaker as well as the President. Voting for filling up those posts are expected to be held within weeks.
In line with the Roadmap, the NCA had voted earlier this month to endorse a Draft Constitution. However, the NCA-approved draft constitution still has to be ratified by the new parliament to take effect.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Incidentally, the outgoing UN-backed interim government set up in 2004 has been struggling to enforce its authority in the Horn of Africa nation.
Until recently, Islamist militant groups 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. However, the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in Mogadishu.
by RTT Staff Writer
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