Letter to the members of the Somali Jaaliyadda 30 Oct 2008

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Nairobi, 30 October 2008

Salaam Aleikum

Dear friends

I am writing once again to update you on the recent events both inside and outside Somalia and present some ideas on the way forward. We have entered a particularly challenging period in the peace process and Somalia is counting on all your support to help make it work and I always take seriously the views of the Jaaliyadda.

I have just returned from Djibouti where, as you know, the TFG and the ARS signed on 26 October two important documents. The first is a joint Declaration signed by the TFG and the ARS welcoming international assistance to help form a Somali Unity Government featuring an inclusive parliament. This puts into practice the political cooperation outlined in Article 9 of the Djibouti Agreement.

The other, signed by the leaders of the delegations to the Joint Security Committees, stated that a ceasefire will come into effect on 5 November and covered the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and their relocation. Those who were saying that they are fighting only because of the Ethiopian presence in Somalia have no more reason to continue supporting or carrying out violence. Time has come to start putting weapons aside and embracing dialogue.

Earlier, the Joint Security Committee, made up of representatives from both TFG and ARS traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to discuss future plans, helped by experts from the international community. In addition, such training helps to build confidence and provides crucial expertise for the important tasks ahead.

I have been attending the IGAD meeting here in Nairobi which fully complements the work undertaken in Djibouti by my office. There is a determination among Governments in the region to push forward the peace process and we welcome their support and continued commitment. They plan to be more directly involved and plan to appoint a Special Facilitator for Somalia.

We also held a two day meeting in Sweden to prepare for an international donors' conference for the Reconstruction and Development of Somalia which we plan for early next year. This conference will raise funds for a one year package for the recovery of your country. Before the meeting, my representatives met some of you at the Horn of Africa conference in Lund, Sweden which I unfortunately was unable to attend.

I am also preparing to hold expert and ministerial consultations on ways to address all issues related to the expanding piracy problem.

Like all of you, I was deeply shocked and upset to hear of the terrible suicide bombings in Somaliland and Puntland which took so many innocent lives. I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of the victims. I absolutely condemn these appalling acts and those who carried them out.

The issue of impunity remains high on the agenda. Earlier this month, the French Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of Human Rights and the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights came to discuss the human rights situation in Somalia. Both visited Dadaab refugee camp to speak to new arrivals and held discussions with several experts. A conference on Justice and Reconciliation in Somalia is planned for next year with a preparatory conference later this year.

Meanwhile a large number of representatives from various governments and civil society organizations as well as prominent African and non-African personalities are calling and writing to New York and Geneva about the urgent obligations to constitute an International Commission of Inquiry for Somalia. The establishment of such an International commission is now urgent. The Commission should investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Somalia by all Somali Parties since the beginning of the conflict.

The Commission should identify the perpetrators of such violations at all levels including with a view to ensuring that those responsible by giving orders, funding or carrying out acts, are held accountable. An example of such a Commission is that of Darfur, established by UN Security Council resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004 which has led the International Criminal Court to issue warrants for arrests. The time has come has come to stop spoilers from derailing the peace process.

Meanwhile we must push ahead with our efforts to reach stability in your country. Sometimes I find that Somalis mistakenly believe they have time on their side. This is not the case. You now have the framework for durable stability but it must be put into practice which requires the backing of all patriotic Somalis inside and outside the country to ensure that there is fast progress. Events are moving quickly and there is no time to waste.

As always I appreciate your support to reconcile Somalis and ensure that peace again returns to your homeland.

Yours Faithfully
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah

For more information please contact: Susanna Price, Public Information Officer, UN Political Office for Somalia (Nairobi, Kenya ) Tel. +254 20 762 1192 (o) or +254 733 902020 (m).