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Exclusive interview with Somalia Prime Minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi

Sub-Saharan Informer 

"Walta Information Centre"

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"We understand that maybe some international actors are trying to advocate for the recognition of Somaliland but that will never happen"

"No country, no international organization can recognize them"

"Politically speaking Somaliland is a part and parcel of Somalia. So that is the road map for the destiny of the Somali people and the Somali mission. Besides Somaliland communities were included in the reconciliation process in Kenya"

Mr Gedi Asked the Reporter - What is your mission? Are you advocating for the secession of Somaliland from the rest of Somalia

 

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Sab-Sahran Informer (SSI) had the opportunity this week to sit down with the Prime Minister of Somalia, Ali Mohammed Gedi. Here he answers questions about a new reconciliation process, violence and instability in Mogadishu and elsewhere, piracy off the Somali coast, lackluster international support, and relations with Somaliland.
 
Sub-Saharan Informer: Would you briefly tell us about the development that took place after the government moved from Kenya to Somalia? How the situation is, how you are managing the peace process?
 
PM A. Gedi: First and foremost, after the relocation of the government from Kenya to Somalia in mid June, we have conducted several activities on the ground, to start with the installation of the government on the ground. And obviously we have used Jowhar town, which is located just 90km North from Mogadishu as the temporary seat of the government due to the insecurity prevailing in the capital city. But in the mean time the government officials either from the cabinet ministers or the parliament are all scattered in all over the regions of Somalia including Mogadishu. Specifically, Mogadishu is a particular case and the Deputy Minister, the Minister of Interior is leading the process of reconciliation and stability in the capital city together with other stakeholders from the regional administrations to the national one. So far we have achieved some results during our operation in the country with the submission of the government in this stage and governmental policy to the Somali people. We have started establishments or reestablishments of local administrations and it is still going on. We have started also diplomatic relations with international community and countries. Our agenda is very clear. And it is focusing on the reconciliation among the communities in the different areas of Somalia. And also the security sector. That is our major challenge because for the past 14 years there was no central government for Somalia and therefore there was no law and order and also law enforcement agencies are not in place. So we have started reestablishing the law enforcement agencies. We have already encamped around six thousand security forces and we want to continue covering the whole country. So most of the Somalia areas are now peaceful. The public is willing the government under stability in order to reconstruct the country and start also the development activities.
 
SSI: It could be recalled that at the inauguration of the government, some African countries, including the African Union, pledged troops to assist you in disarming and securing peace in Somalia and relocating the government appropriately. But so far no troops have made it to Somalia. Why is that?
 
PM A. Gedi: Putting in place peace supporting mission or troops from the IGAD member states and the African Union is a priority. And there is no obstruction, but it is a process and it requires combined effort and the collectivity from the international communityís point of view. For example my last visit to the European Union Commission has guaranteed financial support for this issue of stabilization and peace mission to Somalia in collaboration with the African Union, IGAD members and Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. So this process is now in an advanced stage and hopefully within the coming couple of days a technical committee from the AU will reach Jowhar to consult with the government and put in place our national security plan for the implementation of stabilization of Somalia.
 
SSI: When will that be? When will the AU technical mission undertake the mission?
 
PM A.Gedi: Tentatively it will be on the 25th of this month.
 
SSI: Some people claim that why achieving peace and security has not been a reality is because some groups have not been included in the Mbagathi peace process, mainly the people who control the airports, the port; plantations running lucrative business ventures around these sectors and the fundamentalist religious groups have not been included and it is said that these are the groups who remain resistant to your coming as government. If this is true, what is being done in this regard to bring them together nearer to the Transnational Federal Government?
 
PM A. Gedi: Basically in the last 14-15 years of no government in Somalia, some private sector forces mushroomed and they have interest in the vacuum of no government but the business community at large is not against the government. Rather, there are extremist groups, so called Al ltihad, who are associated with terrorism are hindering the peace process and the security in the capital city. Obviously there are groups who are not willing to let any government and stability in Somalia. Power hungry groups are there the so-called Islamic Courts although most of them are now pro-government and would like to joint the efforts of the government and the stabilization. But those who are affiliated and associated with the international terrorism groups are never happy to have a government of Somalia in place. But the majority of the Somali people are under the policy of the government together and are now achieving results, we are progressing and will hopefully stabilize the country within the coming couple of months.
 
SSI: Recently there was an attempt on your life and on some of your colleagues. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And whom do you think was responsible?
 
PM A.Gedi: Of course they are people who are not willing to have any government and stability for Somalia. We describe them as cowards because they cannot carry out any direct attack. So it was a landmine and hand grenade and they were trying to disappoint the government and divert our mission and objective. But that did not happen. We have continued with our mission and we have achieved the expected results and that has attracted the international communityís support to the government and also the support of the Somali people to the government. But everywhere there are challenges and the government is prepared to address these challenges.
 
SSI: Your Excellency, you just have concluded a tour in Europe and participated in some meetings. Can you tell us about that, with whom you met and what you have discussed in regards to peace and stability in your country?
 
PM A. Gedi: It was an official visit to Brussels to meet with the relevant officials of the European Union and Commissioners. We met with the development commissioner, His Excellency Luis Michel, we met with Javier Solana, the political commissioner and we also met with the 25 ambassadors to the European Union member States. And all of them were very supportive. We discussed issues related to security restoration in Somalia; stabilization, reconstruction and development. And they have pledged their full support financially and politically and to advocate the faith of Somalia worldwide.
 
SSI: As we refer to Somalia today we are referring to Somalia with our Somaliland. Because Somaliland has been taking its own path for the last 14 years, what is the relationship today and what is the relationship going to look like in the future?
 
PM A. Gedi: Somaliland is a Somalia entity first of all. They claim to break away from the unity, but that is not the reality today. Somaliland today is a stable area with a governance and stability, and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is focusing on the rest of Somalia to be stabilized and security to be stabilized and security to be restored. When we reach that stage, we are prepared to start dialogues with Somaliland people and authorities for the future and the destiny of the Somali people.
 
SSI: When do you suppose that could happen?
 
PM A. Gedi: Within the time frame of our five-year mandate of course.
 
SSI: Are there any talks and meetings with the government in Somaliland and the Transitional Federal Government?
 
PM A. Gedi: Not yet. As I have said, once we have to stabilize the rest of Somalia, we are prepared to start dialogue with them.
 
SSI: We have had interviews with Somaliland authorities, and they are of the opinion that you are their brothers, and if the Transitional Federal Government so wishes them to cooperate, they can cooperate, but as a different entity not as one entity (one Somalia). What do you have to say of this notion?
 
PM A. Gedi: I donít believe in different entities. The act of union of the 1960 is still there, and the unity did not come with the willingness of one part- it was a common understanding. It was a common undertaking. And it still needs a common understanding and collective effort to consolidate the Somalia unity under governance. It is within the transitional federal charter of Somalia that Somalia is one country, it is one nation, and to reach that objective it needs a combined effort and collective decisions and consultations through dialogue. So we understand that maybe some international actors are trying to advocate for the recognition of Somaliland but that will never happen.
 
SSI: You were quoted as saying if the international community recognizes Somaliland we donít have a problem, we will accept them. If that is right and if the international community comes to recognize Somaliland as a separate entity, what would be the outlook of your government?
 
PM A. Gedi: First of all, the decision and destiny is in the hands of the Somali people not in the hands of the international community. The international community operates through the charter of the United Nations and International Organizations. And in nowhere in that charter is a separation and division of nations possible, so the recognition must come from the Somali people through referendum, through acceptance and through willingness. That was the process of the unity form the beginning and it needs the same process. No country, no international organization can recognize them.
 
SSI: If Somaliland calls for a referendum, would you support that, to see whether the people would opt for unity or separation?
 
PM A. Gedi: A referendum must include all Somali people, not part of the Somali people. This is not an easy task. It is not like local administration, it is the destiny of the whole nation. So it must be all inclusive and it must express all of Somalia, if a referendum is deemed necessary for the restoration of the reunification.
 
SSI: Somaliland is a peaceful place. If you believe that it is still within the framework of Somalia why wouldnít your government cooperate with them and try to stabilize the rest of Somalia? Wasnít it possible to locate the government in Somaliland for more secure operations?
 
PM A. Gedi: First of all, let me clarify. From a political point of view, still there are different degrees of stability and the government is committed now to stabilize wherever is not stable. When we stabilize the rest of Somalia we will open dialogue with Somaliland.
 
SSI: What percentage of Somalia is now stable?
 
PM A. Gedi: Almost the whole country is stable, but what is lacking is local administration to run each respective area. We have started the set-up of local administrations. That is what we are lacking, not stability at all.
 
SSI: You are friendly with many countries, including Ethiopia, who happens to have good relations with Somaliland. How do African countries like Ethiopia advise you to look at Somaliland?
 
PM A. Gedi: The AU and the IGAD member states are focusing on Somalia and not Somaliland. Yes, we are encouraging them for the stability they have achieved and the reconstruction activities they are passing through. But politically speaking, all the AU counties and all the international community are sticking to Somali unity and territorial integrity. This is the common ground even within the charter of the United Nations. So there is no abuse and aberration on that issue.
 
SSI: But the people of Somaliland have a bit further than just stability. They have effectively carried out the democratization process, installed government institutions and gone through election process more effective than some African counties that have legitimacy. These achievements cannot be overlooked by anyone, and on their part they are saying they need to be rewarded for these achievements. What is your consideration of this?
 
PM A. Gedi: What is your mission? Are you advocating for the secession of Somaliland from the rest of Somalia or are you just asking me for clarification of what is happening.
 
SSI: I am just asking for more clarifications, Sir.
 
PM A. Gedi: I appreciate the effort of the Somaliland people with respect to the stabilization, reconstruction and the governance they are enjoying. But they are still an entity of Somalia. And that cannot be accepted if there is no common sense. What we are calling for is to start a dialogue with them, but it takes effort to sart with. So rewarding in a sense is there, but politically speaking Somaliland is a part and parcel of Somalia. So that is the road map for the destiny of the Somali people and the Somali mission. Besides Somaliland communities were included in the reconciliation process in Kenya. These communities are part of the parliament; they are part of my cabinet ministers. The Deputy Prime Minister is from Somaliland, from Hargeisa. So donít consider only those staying in the geographical area of Somaliland, also those who are part and parcel of the government. Hargeisa is not the only stable place. There are similar places enjoying stability in the country. And all the actions, the killings that were taking place in Somalia were also taking place in Hargeisa. Not only in Somalia is it happening all over the world. So there is no distinction between Somaliland and the rest of Somalia or Somalia and the rest of the world.
 
SSI: How about the issue of pirates, which has drawn international attention. It is said the coast of the Indian Ocean including the ports of Mombassa and Zanzibar are being barred because of the piracy on the Somali coast. What is being done to control this situation?
 
PM A. Gedi: This new phenomenon of piracy in the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea is a dangerous one. It is affecting not only Somalia but the whole passage of commodities, fishing activities, as well as tourism and humanitarian supplies. We have several times appealed to the international community to support the Transitional Federal Government in order to tackle this problem. Efforts are now under way and there are consultations at the regional and international level in order to address this and we are quite confident we will be able to tackle the issue.
 
SSI: In one way you are disarming the militia, but you also need security forces on the other hand are you establishing a national army or police force?
 
PM A. Gedi: Of course with in the demobilization process some of the former armed forces and the national police and army will be reestablished. Most of the militias will be trained for future police and national army, while part of them will be given vocational training for integration back into society. So already the processes of reestablishing our national security forces are under process, and hopefully we will strengthen them in collaboration with our neighboring countries and at the regional level as well.
 
SSI: When will the disarming of the militia start?
 
PM A. Gedi: Already we have started. Already we have demobilized 6,00 militia. They are in the camps, under training. According to the availability of international support and financial logistic availability, we are ready to continue with this mobilization.
 
SSI: At the time you moved out form Kenya, People though the first thing you were going to have to do is to dialogue with community leaders on the grassroots level. And sort out a national reconciliation issues whereby you give the community elders a responsibility to disarm. Not only militias, but at the household level. But we have not heard so afar that this has taken place. What have you done in this regard?
 
PM A. Gedi: The political reconciliation has taken place. We agreed on a federal charter, on the parliament, and we have elected leaders and formed the government. So what is remaining is grassroots level reconciliation, between communities and neighbors and different districts, and that is under process. In fact in the road map of the reconciliation process in Somalia we have planned to convene district level and regional level reconciliation conferences, and finally we will conclude with a gathering of all the representations from the different regions of Somalia in the capital city in order to declare that the reconciliation of Somalia is complete and that the government is running all over the country. So this is our road map.
 
But still there are loopholes. We have to stabilize parts of the country. There are places where there is no control. So unless we put in place local administrations we cannot even run these reconciliation conferences. We want to ask them questions. What are the needs of your district or region? Of course they will say we need security, we need administration. What is the obstacle to stability? They will say the militias, the gunmen. Why donít you put them in camps, why donít you train them why donít you train them, why donít you reestablish your courts and your police stations.
 
This is the process, so once we complete this at the district level delegates will come to the regional level and then to the national level. So this is our road map, and we have confidence in carrying our these activities because of the support of Somali people everywhere.
 
SSI: In your personal opinion, what are the difficulties in the road map you just explained and how do you aim to tackle them?
 
PM A. Gedi: Challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Somalia is not unique. But as a matter of priority we have security difficulties. In the context of the road map we are trying to handle the issue. The only weakness evident is the lack of financial support form the international community. Now that we are in the early stages of the reconciliation process, we have the trust and confidence that the donor community will support us. And if we get that support we have all the strength and the credibility to carry out our responsibilities and to stabilize the country.
 
SSI: One the last question. When do you suppose the Temporary Federal Government will have control over Mogadishu?
 
PM A. Gedi: As have told you it is a process, and the transitional federal institutions are operating now in the capital city with the leader ship of the deputy prime Minister, my minister of the interior. Already some ministries are operating in the capital City. Our plan is to stabilize and start operating fully with in the capital city within the coming three or four months.

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