Somali News

Somalia gets $1.3b for economy, security

World leaders have pledged to support Somalia’s new government and its security and economic reforms. However, the government has been tasked with using its support from citizens to deliver on its promises.

The three-day Somalia International Conference in London saw President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo’s government get new pledges of more than $1.3 billion to help improve stability in the country, mitigate against the famine that has affected 5.5 million people and free the country from the menace of Al Shabaab.

The United Kingdom has pledged $27 million, which will be spent over the next two years to provide training and mentoring to the country’s army and improving security.

The European Union — Somalia’s biggest donor — pledged that member states will this year invest $1.03 billion, which will bring total support to $4.5 billion till 2020.

This includes support for the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom), salaries for police, development aid, and $596 million for humanitarian assistance to tackle the devastating effects of the drought.

Amisom’s departure

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an additional $900 million for the drought-stricken country.

By the time of the conference, the UN had only realised 30 per cent of the $825 million target it proposed in March to mitigate against the effects of the drought.

But world leaders insisted that President Farmajo deliver on his promises and reminded him that Amisom will not be in the country forever — the African peacekeepers will start a drawdown in 2018.

“We are proposing today a new Partnership for Somalia through which President Farmajo will commit to the development of an inclusive and federal democratic state — and the international community will back him with better targeted support for jobs and livelihoods that can drive economic recovery,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

After the first day of the conference on May 11, the delegation from Somalia were engaged in closed-door meetings with various partners to explain how the government is planning to take the country forward given the goodwill it is currently enjoying.

As world leaders emphasised the need for the country’s security forces — the Somali National Army and police — to take over the security of Somalia, President Farmajo asked the UN to lift the arms embargo to allow the country to arm itself with modern weapons to match those deployed by Al Shabaab.

“We are working with our partners and the Security Council to develop a clearly defined roadmap to the full lifting of the arms embargo. This will include the improvements we must make to our weapons management, command and control systems,” said President Farmajo.

Debt relief

The president’s other plea was for debt relief as the country struggles with a $5.3 billion debt. He said Somalia’s meagre revenue can barely cover the budget.

“Access to international financial institutions is restricted due to existing arrears. We have developed a roadmap to clear arrears and normalise relations with institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. This is an area that I will personally follow, to ensure that we are meeting our obligations,” said President Farmajo.

The country’s new Security Pact includes a UK commitment to train Somali forces in Baidoa, the UAE’s developing a state-of-the art training facility, America’s training and equipping of Danab Special Forces and Turkey working to train Somali officers.

Prime Minister May said Somalia must commit itself to a four-year roadmap on reforms that include clear co-operation between Mogadishu and regional states on security, political agreements on power-sharing that leads to a constitutional review, work towards a more fairer justice system, practical steps on how to tackle corruption, and a clear roadmap on how to achieve one-person one-vote in the next elections in 2021.

“In return, the international community will back these reforms with better targeted support such as investment in key areas such as the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sector as well as development finance,” said Ms May.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said Somalia must embark on a process of healing. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta asked for the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops to help liberate areas still held by Al Shabaab.

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