Prime Minister Shirdon with Puntland President Faroole (Photo: Courtsey of Garoweonline)
His Excellency Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon today urges the international community to take note of the changed situation in Somalia and adjust their policies accordingly. In a hard-hitting editorial in The National, the leading English language newspaper of the Middle East, the Prime Minister calls on Somalia’s international partners to modify their policies to fit the new circumstances of “a fledgling democracy taking the first steps of reconstruction and development”:
“For years our international relations have been conducted on a one-way basis, invariably on a humanitarian level. That model is now an anachronism and must change. We are a sovereign government… and the outside world needs to start treating us like one. It is no good criticising our lack of government capacity and then funding NGOs to execute projects while sidelining government institutions altogether. This merely perpetuates a cycle of dependence, denies us the learning experience and ensures government capacity remains limited.”
In a wide-ranging editorial entitled “Somalia replaces extremism with a programme of reform”, the Prime Minister emphasises the recent security gains that have brought Al Shabaab to its knees. “To be discussing policing, tax collection and judicial reform in Galgadud, a region that only recently was a no-go area ravaged by extremists, gives you an indication of how far we have come,” he writes, commenting on last week’s Listening Tour to the regions, in which the PM also signed a landmark deal with Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa and facilitated the establishment of local administrations.
“Only recently we could barely move safely inside our own capital.” The Prime Minister also highlights the vigorous legislative activity within the government and parliament. “Laws are the foundation of a functioning state,” he writes, noting the forthcoming parliamentary votes on legislation governing human rights reform, judicial reform, and district and regional authorities reform.
“We will also be passing legislation restructuring the police and security forces, creating specialist anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and anti-trafficking institutions, governing the Central Bank, assisting refugees and providing legal aid.”
Perhaps nowhere is reform so critical as in policing and the judiciary. “Judicial reform is one of our greatest priorities,” the Prime Minister writes. “Nothing underlines the need to reform our police and judiciary more than the decision to send a rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her to prison. Yet that regrettable verdict was a symptom, not the cause, of the problem, a lack of the rule of law.”
The Prime Minister concludes with a call for strengthened partnerships adapted to the new realities. “The need for partnerships with our international friends, which the world will see at the London Somalia Conference in May, has never been greater. We know that we cannot do it alone, but there is no turning back.”