Keating says pervasive corruption in politics retards progress in Somalia

Mogadishu, Somalia (PANA) – When the most powerful actors in Somalia cooperate, whether the Federal Government, Federal Member States, parliamentarians, clan elders, business or the international community, great progress can be made, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating said on Tuesday.

Drawing lessons from 2017, Keating warned in his ‘End of Year Statement’ that when the most powerful fail to cooperate, the risks are enormous.

“Somalis deserve better than to watch as the most privileged compete for personal gain at a time when they face so much adversity and insecurity. Young people in particular expect better; it is their future that is at stake.

“Failure to connect politics with meaningful progress, to respect basic rules and to include all players in society, including women, youth and minorities, risks alienating them and diminishing the goodwill of the international community upon which Somalia remains so heavily dependent,” he said.

Noting that the path to building trusted and accountable institutions and to more democratic government is not a smooth one, Keating said that Somalis face some of the toughest living conditions in the world.

“Millions are struggling to cope with the consequences of drought. Insecurity is a fact of life for everyone. 2017 has seen many terrible moments, including the devastating bomb on 14 October that ruined so many lives.

“But despite these enormous challenges, 2017 has also seen real progress. It is worth dwelling on these at a time when it is only the bad news that dominates media coverage and diminishes the reputation of Somalia,” Keating said.

Part of the good news in the Horn of Africa country was that famine was averted, thanks to an effort led by government that included business, civil society and the diaspora while international donors were extraordinarily generous.

Aid actors, including the United Nations, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), did a remarkable job to reach those in need, including a million newly displaced persons.

Also, 2017 saw a peaceful transfer of presidential power. The new Upper House, representing the regions, came into being, while 80 female Members of Parliament took their seats, accounting for a remarkable 24 per cent of both houses.

The new Federal Government initiated a number of reforms, which Keating said, “if followed through next year, promise to make life better for people.”

Reforms include an agreement with Federal Member States on the national security architecture and plans for rebuilding the army and police. A judicial and corrections model has been approved, and a national development plan was agreed – the first in decades.

According to Keating, the terror group Al Shabaab has retained the capacity to mount spectacular attacks, because it thrives, among other things, on the absence of functional local government and on the many conflicts around the country.

He said troops of the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) play an indispensable role, at great cost, in protecting large parts of the country and creating the space for state-building.

Remaining optimistic, the UN official cautioned that “no one should underestimate the many challenges ahead, and the serious issues that continue to retard and even threaten further progress.”

He explained that challenges ahead include pervasive corruption, most obviously in politics, and powerbrokers’ willingness to use violence, or the threat of violence, against opponents.

“They also include failure to respect the Provisional Federal Constitution, the rule of law and human rights. All of these play into the hands of extremists,” Keating added.
-0- PANA AR 26Dec2017

26 december 2017 18:13:17

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