Kenya + 1 more

Somalia: IRIN interview with Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galeyr - Part 1

NAIROBI, 20 November (IRIN) - Somalia's newly appointed Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galeyr is in Nairobi for the first official meeting with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. The Somali parliament, elected in peace talks hosted in Djibouti, Arta, in August, gave the necessary vote of confidence for Galeyr's appointment on 9 November. Since attempting to set up in Mogadishu, the new government has suffered two assassinations and continues to face opposition from numerous faction leaders and the established breakaway administrations in Somaliland, northwest, and Puntland, northeast. Galeyr spoke to IRIN about what the first steps would be to establish a national administration after ten years without a central government.
QUESTION: Why are you in Kenya?

ANSWER: We are in Kenya for two main reasons. One is to reestablish contacts with the Kenya government. We also wanted to thank the president for his involvement in the Somali issue, the search for peace for Somalis - and for hosting the very large number of Somali refugees. There are also all those who use Kenya as a transit point. We want to establish relations and an embassy here, and ask the Kenyan government to open an embassy in Mogadishu. President Daniel arap Moi, as an elder statesman, has a role to play in our peace building efforts and also in Somalia coming back to the regional organisations, IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), and the OAU (Organisation of African Unity). We succeeded in taking part in the last UN General Assembly , and the UN Millennium Summit, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Congress. What is remaining is to complete that circle, and to participate in all these forums to occupy our rightful place among the international community ...

Q: There were issues of recognition by the Kenyan government which recently hosted faction leaders opposed to you. Has that been clarified now?

A: I don't think Somalia as a state needs recognition - the regime collapsed, the administration vaporised, and no-one since, has recognised Somaliland and Puntland. As far as the recognition or acceptance of the Somali government - what the United Nations and the Security Council has been saying about Somalia is testimony to our status. President Moi was very open about this. We still have to engage some of the individuals, groups and entities that did not take part in the Arta peace process - but as far as we are concerned, the Somalia state and this government is recognised and accepted. And that is certainly the impression I got when I met President Moi this morning.

Q: When the previous government collapsed, some embassies were abandoned, some taken over, and some personnel simply continued - how is the new government dealing with this?

A: We had about 26 embassies before the collapse of the administration. We cannot reestablish all 26 of them. We will start with the concept of roving ambassadors - groups and individuals and teams who will play that role. There will be no resident ambassadors. But in places like Kenya and Ethiopia and Djibouti we would like to be physically present as soon as possible. We have buildings that the Somali government actually owns. I think the residence in Kenya was a Somali-owned building, but there have been complications and I have been talking to the lawyer who has been handling that case. Our concept is to use the concept of roving ambassadors and, in the meantime, to get to know what condition these buildings are in. It has been more than ten years that some have stood empty; or, in some places, some people have been occupying them. Places like China, Yemen and Egypt still have staff who are holding the fort ... Wherever we have buildings and assets we will ... take possession ... I don't think any embassy has been occupied by a faction or a warlord ... in all the countries I know of, the individuals who are there, we are in touch with and they are loyal to our government.

Q: And the issue of Somali passports which have been illegally issued over the last 10 years?

A: We have a proposal which was tabled in the council of ministers. We are about to finalise that, and the technical specifications, and make sure from the point of view of security they will not be easily forged. Whether it is the passport or the new currency, we want to make sure that we do have the real thing and there will be no more potential for misuse. Hopefully, we'll do both of these before the end of the year.

Q: If you start talking about taking control of passports and currency, you are taking about the status of the "self-declared" regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

A: As far as I know Puntland is using the old notes ... but we will leave this to market forces. There is going to be a market economy. We were not just going to drop truck loads of these new notes on anybody. We want to make sure the establishment of the central bank and other banking institutions are in place. The economy is very much integrated - the bulk of Somali livestock goes through Berbera in Somaliland - after leaving from Gedo in the south and from other parts of the country. The bulk of commodities come into Berbera (from the Gulf States) and then goes all the way to the central regions. I think good money will eventually drive out bad money.

Q: What about Somaliland passports?

A: As far as we know this is a new venture they have come up with. We will leave it up to the international community. There is a unified Somali state, and a central role is to come up with passports and banknotes. In terms of the international community, nobody - as far as I know - has officially recognised Somaliland so I don't know where these passports are going to be used. Or which countries people holding these Somaliland passports are going to get visas for. We don't really want to create any confrontation over this issue, but we will have our say in it. We will establish what is a passport from the Somali government - and the international community knows that Somalia is represented by one entity, not multiple entities.

[ENDS]

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