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London high level forum to chart Somalia's futureail

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Sunday May 7, 2017

Thursday, May 12, will be an important day in the history and future of Somalia. A high-level partnership meeting will take place in London to discuss the country’s future.
The London Conference, will be hosted by the United Kingdom government, the United Nations and the Federal Government of Somalia. Among those expected is the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo will also be present. 
The meeting will attract lots of interest from partners and donors if the roundtable summit in Mogadishu on drought in Somalia is anything to go by. At that meeting more than 50 countries and donors came together to pledge more than $450 million in March 2017. Last year, a similar meeting was held in Istanbul, Turkey building upon the New Deal Compact document produced in 2013.
The deal provided for political, security and development architecture framing for relations between Somalia, its people and the international community. The High-Level Partnership Forum attracted representatives from more than 50 countries and 11 international organisations. At the end of the London Conference, it is expected that a Partnership for Development will be reached whose objective will set Somali commitments to progress in key areas against sustained international support.
The Conference comes at a critical time for the new government in Mogadishu. Elected on February 8, President Farmaajo has just completed the process of putting together a cabinet led by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire. Farmaajo came to power on the platform of anti-corruption and restoration of security in the war-torn country that has not had a stable government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.
He has been strategic in the manner in which he has handled the thorny issue of security. Farmaajo together with regional states leaders, has come up with the security architecture that spells out the number of soldiers and police that Somalia will have and the composition in various units. On Tuesday (May 2) last week, parliament approved the document with minor amendments.
The country will have a defense force of 22,000 troops, 4,000 of them will be special forces. The federal police will be made up of 32,000 officers.

The document also spells out the composition of the National Security Council to be chaired by the President with Federal States presidents as members. This document will be part of the presentations to be shared with the country’s donors and partners at the Thursday meeting.
Besides security, there will also be a session on more inclusive and stable politics as well as tackling Somalia’s economic recovery. However, it will be the session on politics that will be of most interest to the country’s western partners. Somalia has set itself a deadline of 2020 to have one-person one-vote.
The last time the country held such an election was 40 years ago. In 2012, the 175 clan elders picked 275 Members of Parliament while in the recent election, 14,000 people picked by the same elders elected 275 MPs and 54 Senators. The reason behind this has been Al-Shabaab and insecurity in the country. Also, to feature prominently at the London conference, will be the agreement on the transition of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
The force which has been securing the Federal Government in Mogadishu since 2007 plans to exit in 2018. However, the structures for setting up Somali security institutions remain weak and at best nascent.
The session on Amisom’s exit strategy will of course be followed very closely by Kenya and neighbouring countries that have sent troops to Somalia. Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta while bidding farewell to Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya pledged to work closely with his counterpart in Somalia to deal a deadly blow to terrorism and insecurity.
The drought in Somalia and the new government are attracting international interest like a magnet. German sent its highest-ranking diplomat, the minister for foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel. During his visit to Mogadishu and the central town of Baidoa, last Tuesday, Gabriel pledged to double his country’s contribution to the drought kitty from the current 70 million Euros to 140 million Euros.

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