It has been just over 17 months on the job - first with UNPOS and now with UNSOM - and unfortunately time has come for me to leave Somalia. I leave with a heavy heart, feeling that there are still many things that I would have wanted to be a part of.
Much is being said about all the things that have NOT happened since the end of the transition, and, true enough, we would have all liked to see a new, safe, stable and prosperous Somalia emerging at a much faster pace. However, it took almost 25 years for Somalia to reach the state of disrepair that it was in at the end of the “transition period” and it will take a considerable amount of time to put everything back on track.
In spite of some senseless and indiscriminate actions on the part of extremists, Somalis have not been discouraged and they are simply getting on with their lives and rebuilding their country. On the streets of Mogadishu, life is slowly returning to normal and construction is taking place everywhere. Even traffic jams are not uncommon, as many of us can attest.
We have come a long way in the past year and amongst the outstanding accomplishments is the fact that Somalia now has a functioning and articulate Parliament with a clear strategy on the way forward. We have just concluded the New Deal Compact in Brussels, which constitutes a set of mutual obligations between the International Community and Somalia on which the reconstruction process will be based. We are seeing an increasing number of young Somali diaspora members, women and men; returning home to seize the opportunities offered by the promise of a new era of peace at the end of the transition.
They accept that in spite of the less than ideal conditions, it is time to come home and contribute to building a new Somalia. I believe this is an example that we, as members of the International Community, should not fail to recognize and appreciate. The time to invest our efforts and resources in Somalia is right now. Not doing so would be to miss the best chance we will get in our life time to help turn things around.
Let us, as the International Community, support the Somali people to find their own solutions and let us embrace the principles of Somali ownership and leadership as we have committed to do in the New Deal. Solutions can only work if they are owned by the Somalis themselves. No one and nothing can substitute that!
Finally, I hope that the process of peace building will also include elements of reconciliation and justice. Somalia can only move forward if it deals with its past. I hope that people can find it in their hearts to forgive the terrible things that have happened, to overcome the divisions and dynamics that are remnants of the past and instead move forward towards a new and bright future.
I wish Somalia all the best, and hope I will be back, one day soon, to enjoy another lobster lunch at Lido Beach!
Somali news leader