State-building and elections discussed on UN Special Representative’s visit to Baidoa

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, said.
UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, said.


Baidoa – Continuing her farewell meetings with Somali leaders, the UN’s top official for Somalia today visited Baidoa, where she met with South West State’s President Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed ‘Laftagareen’ for wide-ranging discussions on local and national issues.

“The focus of our discussion today was in two main parts. The first was around the state-building process: the issues around the Constitution, the role of the NCC [National Consultative Council] and elections, and the President assured me of his commitment to an inclusive dialogue,” the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, said. 

The South West State leader also assured Ms. Laing of the “work he’ll be doing to try and encourage President Deni from Puntland to return to the NCC to ensure his voice is heard as they debate and reflect on the agreement around the first four chapters of the Constitution and, of course, prepare for the debate that will take place on the remaining chapters.”

The UN Special Representative was addressing the media alongside President Mohamed following their meeting in the presidential quarters.

In her remarks, Ms. Laing said the second part of their discussion centred on elections – she commended the President for work that has been varied out to formulate the Federal Member State’s (FMS) district councils. She particularly noted “the fact that he has good female representation on six of his district councils so that is very good progress and to be showcased.” 

Looking ahead to future electoral processes, the UN Special Representative said that they had discussed the importance of ‘one person, one vote’ at district level.

“[We recognized that] there’s still work to be done to get the laws in place, to do voter registration and so on – but I think we both agreed that it is at the district level that democracy needs to embed in any society and that is therefore an important priority going forward,” Ms. Laing said. 

Security and humanitarian 

On security matters, government efforts against the Al-Shabaab terrorist group figured prominently in the discussion.

“We talked about the fight against Al-Shabaab and the importance of the campaign continuing, followed on by stabilization to showcase the role of the state in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab. And then, linked to security, we talked about the ATMIS [African Union Transition Mission in Somalia] troop presence and how important they have been in providing an enabling security environment,” Ms. Laing said. 

“And, as we transition into the new AU [African Union] mission, the importance of having adequate security, including through ENDF [Ethiopian National Defense Forces] forces, who’ve played a particularly important role.”

On humanitarian situation, the challenges which South West State has been facing were covered, as well as longer-term efforts to deal with these.

“We are both committed to trying to transition out of humanitarian crisis response into building resilience and development, including through Baidoa accessing climate finance that will be coming to Somalia,” Ms. Laing said. 

South West State is one of Somalia’s FMSs most affected by the repeated cycles of natural shocks that the country has been experiencing. This has led to a large number of internally displaced persons seeking safety in Baidoa and other parts of the state.

The UN and its humanitarian partners are working with the South West State administration to address the urgent humanitarian needs of those affected by it. This includes supporting government efforts to respond to flooding in Lower Shabelle, with a UN inter-agency assessment planned for the districts of Aw-Dheegle, Marka and Qoryooley to determine the scale of the humanitarian situation and the response needed. It also includes collaboration to control local cholera and malaria outbreaks.

Last week, the UN Special Representative paid farewell calls on other FMS leaders: President Ahmed Abdi Karie ‘Qoorqoor’ of Galmudug and Ali Gudlawe Hussein of Hirshaballe.

With the former, she discussed Somalia’s constitutional review process and the building of UN premises in that FMS’s capital, Dhusamareb. She also congratulated him on Galmudug’s law that bans all forms of female genital mutilation. With the latter, Ms. Laing also discussed Somalia’s constitutional review process, the engagement of the National Consultative Council, the fight against Al-Shabaab, stabilization efforts and that FMS’s reconciliation process.

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