|Istanbul: Somali Conference Opens With High Expectations|
|Thursday, 31 May 2012 21:39|
ISTANBUL(ANN) Somalia needs the backing of other countries to overcome its more than two decades of instability, leaders said Thursday at a meeting in Turkey. Representatives from 54 countries gathered in Istanbul to help Somalia look to the future. Somalia needs a globalreconstruction effort to back up ongoing stabilisation efforts and stop the Horn of Africa’s 20-year descent into chaos, leaders said yesterday at the start of a meeting in Turkey.
Representatives from 54 countries gathered in Istanbul to find a path towards a better future for the country for which the term “failed state” was coined two decades ago.
“After a long period of instability and conflict, we now have ahead of us an opportunity for genuine peace and security,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said at the opening of the Second Istanbul Conference on Somalia.
The capital Mogadishu – where pro-government forces have largely driven out Islamist insurgents – was now open for business, he said as he called for a broad international reconstruction effort.
The two-day conference – which follows a London meeting in February – kicked off with discussions among senior officials, experts and businessmen on four key issuesBusiness leaders, civic society groups and political representatives from both Somalia, Somaliland and other countries are discussing ways to rebuild the country, focusing on reconstruction, energy and water. roads and sustainability. Business leaders, civic society groups and political representatives from both Somalia, Somaliland and other countries are discussing ways to rebuild the country
Today the conference will turn its attention to the political dimension of aid to Somalia, with the participation of UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
“Somalia’s future is in the hands of Somalia,” Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the conference.
The country was ready for long-term development, he said, urging “multiple donors to set up a trust fund for Somalia”.
One major objective of the conference will be to outline the future of Somalia by setting goals for 2015, according to the Turkish foreign ministry.
The mandate of Somalia’s transitional institutions is to expire in August and the current administration is racing against time to reclaim control of the territory before it dissolves.
Lawmakers have struggled to meet the targets set by a “roadmap” signed by Somalia’s disparate leaders for the formation of a government by August 20 to replace the weak transitional body in Mogadishu.
Under the agreement, the latest among more than a dozen attempts to resolve the bloody civil war, lawmakers must agree on a system of government for Somalia’s fragmented regional – and often rival – administrations.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague further emphasised the need for Somali leaders “to deliver a peaceful handover of power” when the transitional period ends in August, in a note posted on his official Facebook account.
“Time is now short. Somalia’s leaders need to decide whether they want to play their part in bringing peace to Somalia after 21 years of war ... or whether another important opportunity will be lost,” he added.
The Istanbul meeting comes as government troops backed by the AU force and anti-Islamist militia attempt to wrest control of Somalia back from the Shebaab, an insurgent group that has declared its allegiance to Al Qaeda.
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