As Somali parliamentarians prepare to elect a new president next week, the top United Nations envoy in the country urged them to choose a credible and effective leader who can advance peace and development in the Horn of Africa nation.
“After two decades of civil war, a collapsed state and innumerable indignities to the proud Somali people, we are hours away from the election of a new president – the event that will completely end the transitional period and move us towards a phase of political and socio-economic transformation,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, said in an open letter to the country’s parliamentarians.
Mahiga, who also heads the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), called on the parliamentarians to choose the candidate who will be “honest and effective in leading the country with a vision appropriate for the next four years of transformation and peace-building.”
After decades of warfare, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with the country’s transitional governing arrangements coming to an end with the implementation of the so-called Roadmap for the End of Transition.
The 10 September election will mark the culmination of a series of landmark events in recent weeks, including the adoption of Somalia’s provisional constitution, the inaugural meeting of its new parliament – which Mahiga described as the “most qualified and representative” in the country’s history – and the appointment of that body’s speaker.
“It has not been easy getting us to this point,” noted Mahiga. “In addition to the privations you have all endured during these past difficult years, the political process and the security situation has not been easy. There have been moments when all seemed lost and we have sometimes been on the brink of despair.
“Nevertheless, somehow, the courage, tenacity and determination of the Somali people has overcome these formidable obstacles and brought us to where we are now.”
He urged them to listen to the presidential candidates as they publicly present their visions, and to make their choice accordingly, adding that all Somalis, the region and the rest of the international community are watching during these remaining few days.
“My brothers and sisters, it is all up to you,” he added. “You are the highest sovereign authority in the land. You are the custodians of the future which is now in your hands.”