Key Representative Assures Speakers 30 Per Cent of Posts in Upcoming Lower House Election Reserved for Women

Welcoming the completion of recent elections to the Upper House of Parliament in Somalia, a senior United Nations official in that country, along with an official of the African Union and a civil society representative, told the Security Council that more must be done to ensure the full inclusion and representation of women in the country’s political system, while also highlighting the serious threat by armed groups to Somalia’s security.

James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), reported that, in the recent election of the Upper House of the Federal Parliament, women were elected to 14 of the 54 seats, representing 26 per cent of the Senators.  “Women’s full inclusion and representation in political life, and in all sectors of life, is key for Somalia’s sustainable peace and development,” he stressed.  He urged all stakeholders to move swiftly to conclude the House of the People elections in the Federal Member States, in order to ensure that the full Parliament is elected before the end of this year.

Unfortunately, the security situation in Somalia continues to be volatile, he noted.  Al‑Shabaab remains a serious threat to Somalia’s security and is maintaining a high level of activities, including through continued use of improvised explosive devices and an increase in the use of suicide bombers.  Implementation of the Somalia Transition Plan for progressive transfer of security responsibilities from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to the Somali Security Forces is advancing but remains behind schedule, he said.

Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the African Union Commission, Chairperson for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, underlined the importance of strengthening women’s voices, but expressed concern that the 30 per cent quota for women’s seats fell short at 26 per cent.  AMISOM is working with the women’s Goodwill Ambassadors and other feminist activists and will continue such efforts to prevail in getting leaders to live up to 17 September and 27 May agreements on the quota, he stressed.

The African Union Peace and Security Council mandated AMISOM to provide assistance to the electoral process, he continued, pointing out that Somalia was the first African Union member State to receive multi‑pronged support including technical experts, advisory support, electoral security and other elements.  AMISOM police and their Somali counterparts have continued to secure ongoing elections, also focusing on election related training of 245 security officials to help plan, monitor and coordinate the processes.

Asha A. Siyad, Executive Director, Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative, underscored that the clan‑based political system relegates women’s participation in politics and in public spheres to a limited and insignificant role.  The Upper House elections delivered only 26 per cent representation of women, despite advocacy by women leaders.  The indirect election disenfranchises almost the entire adult population of Somalia, including women, men, youth, minority community and people with disability, and helps perpetuate the exclusionary political practices.  She urged that work be done toward implementing one‑person‑one‑vote elections in 2025 and 2026.

“Participation is our right and it must be safeguarded in the Constitution,” she said, drawing attention to the link between women participation and protection.  Further, resources must be provided to strengthen women’s leadership roles, she said.  Calling upon the international community and the United Nations to extend full support and cooperation to the new Government, she emphasized that this support should be premised on its inclusivity and participation of women.

As Council members took the floor, many, noting the election of the 14 women Senators, urged Somali leadership to conclude the election process by the end of the year.  Others expressed concern over the grave security situation caused by Al‑Shabaab and called for a clear path forward on the configuration of AMISOM and transition to Somali forces.

Ireland’s representative, underlining that women’s participation in political, social and economic life is a game changer, expressed regret that the 30 per cent target for women in the Upper House elections had not been reached.  Voicing support for all elections to be concluded by the end of January, she stressed that any further delay risks cost over‑runs and interference from Al‑Shabaab.  Condemning that group’s heinous attacks, she said the Somali Government, African Union and United Nations must find a path forward on the future configuration of AMISOM and eventual handover to Somali security forces.

In a similar vein, the representative of the Russian Federation, while calling the Upper House elections and the 26 per cent representation of women an important milestone, urged the Somali Government and the African Union peacekeepers to continue their fight against Al‑Shabaab, in particular during the elections.  She further commended AMISOM — a key element of security in Somalia — and welcomed the continuing discussions on the transfer of responsibility for the security in the country from the Mission to the national army.  Any decisions about the future of AMISOM should bear in mind Mogadishu’s interests, she said.

Somalia’s representative, reporting that Lower House elections have already begun, assured the Council that federal and state level electoral implementation teams will ensure that at least 82 of the 275 seats will be reserved for women.  Election delays, in many respects, have resulted from the need to ensure that all stakeholders are both informed of and accept the process, he said.

Turning to post‑2021 security arrangements, he underlined that the Somalia Transition Plan is a sustainable approach for countering Al‑Shabaab while building Somalia’s core security functions and recovering strategic locations.  To this end, the Government has engaged with the African Union Commission and AMISOM to finalize the concept of operations as required by Security Council mandate.  Although this process has stalled, he expressed hope that it will resume before the end of 2021.

Also speaking today were the representatives of United Kingdom, India, Tunisia (also speaking for Niger, Kenya and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Estonia, United States, Viet Nam, Norway, China, France and Mexico.

Briefings

JAMES SWAN, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Somalia and Head of UNSOM, drew attention to the recent completion of the elections for all the 54 seats in the Upper House of the Federal Parliament and reported that 14 women will soon take office as Senators, representing 26 per cent of the Upper House.  In addition to the electoral preparations at the national level, the holding of peaceful direct local elections in three districts in Puntland in October demonstrated the feasibility of holding one‑person‑one‑vote elections.

“Women’s full inclusion and representation in political life, and in all sectors of life, is key for Somalia’s sustainable peace and development,” he stressed.  The United Nations continues to engage with and support the key stakeholders to advance the election process, he said, urging all stakeholders to move swiftly to conclude the House of the People elections in the Federal Member States, in order to ensure the full Parliament is elected before the end of this year.

Unfortunately, the security situation in Somalia continues to be volatile, he noted.  Al‑Shabaab remains a serious threat to Somalia’s security and is able to maintain a high level of activities, including through continued use of improvised explosive devices, and an increase in the use of suicide bombers.  So far in 2021, UNSOM has documented 964 civilians killed or injured as a result of armed conflict.  Regrettably, political tensions also continue to drive conflict in Somalia, he said.

Implementation of the Somalia Transition Plan for progressive transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali Security Forces is advancing but remains behind schedule, he said.  Regarding the implementation of Security Council resolution 2568 (2021), further discussions will be required among key security stakeholders to reach agreement on the strategic objectives, size and composition of a future African Union mission designed to support the security transition in Somalia in the most effective way.

He went on to say that the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains dire, compounded by conflict, displacement, and disease outbreaks.  Humanitarian partners estimate that 7.7 million Somalis will require humanitarian assistance in 2022.  In addition, some 1.2 million children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished in 2022 without immediate treatment, he warned.  In that context, he expressed concern that the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 51 per cent funded.  Although progress is being made, the efforts of Somalia’s political leaders will need to be redoubled in the coming weeks to bring the elections for the Federal Parliament to a successful conclusion, so that the presidential elections can then be held as soon as possible, he emphasized.

FRANCISCO CAETANO JOSE MADEIRA, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, said that, despite deep concern over the slow pace of process, Somalia recently completed its Upper House election, no minor feat, and is in the early stages of Lower House elections.  He expressed hope that the process will be completed before the end of year as per the commitment of political leadership.  Despite persistent differences, political stakeholders have kept their doors open to each other, ensuring a platform for narrowing differences and enhancing common concerns.

Expressing concern that the 30 per cent quota for women’s seats fell short at 26 per cent, he underlined the importance of strengthening their voices.  AMISOM is working with the women’s Goodwill Ambassadors and other feminist activists and will continue such efforts to prevail in getting leaders to live up to 17 September and 27 May agreements on the quota.  He cited the peaceful, free and transparent completion of one‑person one‑vote elections in Puntland in October, featuring high turnout, which was “a unique experience”.

The African Union Peace and Security Council mandated AMISOM to provide assistance to the electoral process, he said, pointing out that Somalia was the first African Union member State to receive multi‑pronged support including technical experts, advisory support, electoral security and other elements.  AMISOM police and their Somali counterparts have continued to secure ongoing elections, also focusing on election‑related training of 245 security officials to help plan, monitor and coordinate the processes.

However, he stressed that the security situation remains a grave concern, with Al‑Shabaab increasing attacks on multiple levels, including targeted assassinations of officials and disrupting electoral activities.  AMISOM has conducted joint operations with the Somali army to disrupt Al‑Shabaab activities, including its effort to reclaim towns.  African Union priorities and objectives include preservation of member States’ hard‑won political sovereignty and enhancement of that independence and sovereignty through economic and social development.  Noting the ongoing security situation threatens not only the Somali people, but the world, he stressed that the terrorist group will jeopardize continental objectives if not removed.  He also drew attention to AMISOM’s mandate that ends 31 December, requiring a new mission to take over, with a clearly specified mandate, tasks and structure.

ASHA A. SIYAD, Executive Director, Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative, underscored that women have been an integral part of Somalia’s recovery and stability efforts.  However, the clan‑based political system relegates women’s participation in politics and in public spheres to a limited and insignificant role.  Recalling that the Upper House elections delivered only 26 per cent representation of women, despite advocacy of women leaders — the Goodwill Ambassadors — she voiced doubts of the potential of indirect elections to support 30 per cent quota for women.

Ahead of the House of the People’s election, she said that within the present indirect electoral model, the voices of women do not matter, stressing that the delay in the completion of this election may negatively affect the achievement of the quota for women.  She further pointed to the National Consultative Council, the federal and state elections implementation committees, which hold the primary responsibility for identifying and reserving seats for women.

Noting that the indirect election disenfranchises almost the entire adult population of Somalia, including women, men, youth, minority community and people with disability, and helps perpetuate the exclusionary political practices, she urged that work be done toward implementing one‑person‑one‑vote elections in 2025 and 2026.  The new Government and Parliament need to achieve an inclusive governance reflective of the country’s diversity.  Areas of particular focus include the one‑person‑one‑vote in 2025 and completion of the Constitutional review to safeguard women’s rights for equal participation in politics and governance.  “Participation is our right and it must be safeguarded in the Constitution,” she said, drawing attention to the link between women participation and protection.  In this regard, the new Government should endorse and implement the Sexual Offences Bill.

Resources must be provided to strengthen women’s leadership roles and protection, she continued, calling upon the international community and the United Nations to extend full support and cooperation to the new Government.  However, she stressed, this support should be premised on its inclusivity and participation of women.  Turning to the post‑2021 elections period, she said women of Somalia demand concrete measures and full accountability for the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

Statements

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), while welcoming the completion of elections for Somalia’s upper house, expressed concern regarding the slow electoral progress overall.  Elections for the Lower House must be concluded by 24 December.  Further delays will continue to undermine progress on Somalia’s national priorities, increase political uncertainty and provide Al‑Shabaab with the opportunity to regain ground and boost its political influence.  Turning to the security situation, she said that — with the expiry of the current AMISOM mandate fast approaching — urgent progress is needed on security transition to ensure continuity of international security support to Somalia.  Such support must be both realistic and affordable and should support the progressive transition to Somali‑led security as set out in the Somalia Transition Plan.  The African Union‑United Nations Multidimensional Stabilization Mission model endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council will not achieve this, she added.

RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), highlighting that 13 out of 54 senators in the Upper House are women, expressed hope that Somali leadership and institutions will continue to move forward with the same level of commitment and complete the electoral process within the agreed timelines.  The security situation in Somalia continues to remain critical, with most incidents perpetrated by Al‑Shabaab.  These acts must be condemned in the strongest terms, he stressed, as that group remains largely responsible for numerous civilian casualties and human rights violations, including against women and children.  He welcomed the recently adopted Somalia Sanctions Resolution with a larger focus on sanctions on Al‑Shabaab.  Citing the recent meeting held in Mogadishu between Somalia and the African Union Peace and Security Council on the future of AMISOM, he said that a stable security transition demands firm leadership and collaboration between the Government and the African Union.  However, the humanitarian situation remains dire, with Somalia reeling from multiple factors including the pandemic and desert locusts.  The international community must do more to meet the country’s humanitarian needs.  Somalia is at an important juncture of its development path and the next few months will determine the country’s democratic future, he said.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), also speaking for Niger, Kenya and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, welcomed the completion of Somalia’s Upper House elections and the start of the House of the People’s elections, but warned against any prolonged delays.  Voicing regret over the missed target of 30 per cent women elected to the Upper House, he reiterated his support for one-person‑one‑vote elections and encouraged the continuation of efforts to achieve that objective during the following election cycle.  He expressed concern over the major threat posed by Al‑Shabaab and condemned suicide attacks perpetrated recently by the group in Mogadishu.  Stressing the importance of considering the needs, priorities and views of the host country in defining the nature and objective of any future mission in Somalia, he highlighted the need to thoroughly address the financing challenges of any African Union engagement in Somalia post‑2021 through the provision of adequate, sustainable and predictable financing — including through access to United Nations assessed contributions.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said finalization of elections to the Upper House of Parliament in Somalia provides momentum for the next and more complex poll for the Lower House.  It is possible now to complete all elections by the end of January, she said, stressing that any further delay risks cost over‑runs and interference from Al‑Shabaab.  Adding that women’s participation in political, social and economic life is a game changer, she expressed regret that the 30 per cent target for women in the Upper House elections had not been reached.  Terrorism, armed conflict and violence continue to loom over the Somali people and institutions, she noted, urging the Government to prevent killings, arbitrary arrests, detentions and other actions to repress freedom of expression and political participation.  Condemning Al‑Shabaab’s heinous attacks, she said the Somali Government, African Union, and United Nations must find a path forward on the future configuration of AMISOM and eventual handover to Somali security forces.

ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation), noting that the elections to the Upper House was an important milestone, commended the 26 per cent representation of women delivered by the elections.  Pointing to the tense security situation in Somalia, she called on the Government and the African Union peacekeepers to continue their fight against Al‑Shabaab, in particular during the elections.  She further commended AMISOM — a key element of security in Somalia — and welcomed the continuing discussions on the transfer of responsibility for the security in the country from the Mission to the national army.  Any decisions about the future of AMISOM should bear in mind Mogadishu’s interests, she said.  Pointing to the complex humanitarian situation in Somalia, she pledged her country’s commitment to provide assistance to Somalia and its refugees in the neighbouring countries through targeted contributions to the World Food Programme and the training of Somalian civilian professionals.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), voicing regret over election timeline delays, said timely, inclusive and credible elections are crucial for achieving political stability and progress in Somalia’s state‑building goals.  Urging the Somali leaders to ensure the minimum of 30 per cent quota for women members of Parliament through a clear mechanism, he underscored the importance of women’s participation in the country’s post‑election chapter.  Pointing to the ongoing attacks by Al‑Shabaab, he called on all stakeholders to work closely to combat that group, while emphasizing the importance of implementing the Transition Plan by the Government of Somalia.  Drawing attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation, he urged the Security Council to stand firmly behind Somalia in addressing the climate threat, including through UNSOM.  The foundations for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Somalia will be laid, inter alia, through rule of law, democratization, respect for human rights and effective mechanisms of accountability, he said, stressing that his country will strive to uphold the aforementioned elements throughout its Council membership.

RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States) expressed concern regarding the slow progress made towards elections in Somalia over the past year.  While he welcomed the completion of the selection of members for the Upper House, he noted that only two of the 275 seats have been chosen for the Lower House.  Somalia’s leadership must follow through with their commitment to clear and transparent elections, he said, emphasizing the importance of meeting the 30 per cent female quota in Parliament.  Voicing concern over recent violent clashes that displaced civilians, he noted that while the AMISOM mandate expires at the end of the year, there remains no agreement on a post-2021 stabilization mission.  In that context, he said an African Union‑led mission focused on combatting Al-Shabaab and transferring duties to Somali security forces is the best way forward.  He also urged the Somali Government to conclude national elections as soon as possible.

TRA PHUONG NGUYEN (Viet Nam) expressed concerns regarding Somalia’s political process, including the fact that the implementation of its Transition Plan remains behind schedule.  “However, we have also witnessed recent positive developments in Somalia,” she said.  The implementation of a Somalia­-owned, Somalia‑led political process should take into account the legitimate aspirations and concerns of all stakeholders, and the adequate representation of women, minorities and youth must be ensured.  The United Nations and the international community must urgently prioritize resources to support the holding of elections in a peaceful environment.  Regarding the security situation, she strongly condemned attacks against civilians, officials, Somali security forces and AMISOM.  Global and regional partners should maintain their support for Somali security forces through training, equipment provision, capacity-building and operations against Al‑Shabaab, while assisting the Government in alleviating socioeconomic hardships.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said Somalia is still at a political impasse “which has absorbed too much energy, for too long”.  There is a high risk of power and governance vacuums in several areas which could be filled by Al‑Shabaab, severely setting back the peace and State‑building process.  Also citing recurrent humanitarian crises, she called for both lifesaving humanitarian aid as well as economic development, reforms, stabilization and reconciliation.  Women must be meaningfully engaged in the political processes, which must not be imposed from the outside.  Voicing concern about the lack of progress in talks between the African Union and the Federal Government of Somalia on the nature of the new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia — and the issue of operations — she called for urgent progress in that regard.  Meanwhile, a new or reconfigured AMISOM should contribute to ensuring obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights compliance are upheld, along with the accountability of the Mission itself.

DAI BING (China), urging the international community to continue to provide political and financial support for the elections, strongly condemned the recent bomb attack in Mogadishu.  Helping Somalia to combat terrorism is the common goal of the international community.  He also underlined the need to secure operational funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia to avoid a security vacuum due to funding gaps while the Somali Government, African Union and United Nations work on the post‑2021 configuration of the Mission.  In that regard, his Government has decided to provide annual cash assistance to the Mission.  The Somali Government is ultimately responsible for the security and stability of the country, he emphasized, calling on the international community to help strengthen its security capabilities and take actions regarding the lifting of the Security Council arms embargo.  He further called on States to increase humanitarian and development assistance to the country, noting that nearly half of the population are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.  To that end, China has delivered aid worth $4 million dollars to Somalia last month and will provide additional 500,000 doses of COVID‑19 vaccine, he said.

WADID BENAABOU (France), welcoming the conclusion of elections for the Upper House, called for efforts to be pursued for Lower house and Presidential elections as soon as possible, including reaching the 30 per cent quota of women members.  Highlighting the human tragedy of Al‑Shabaab attacks on women and children, as well as targeted killings, kidnappings and forced displacements, he urged that those responsible be pursued and tried.  Al‑Shabaab controls zones in central and southern sectors of the country, presenting a threat to Mogadishu.  The renewal of the sanctions regime will stem the flow of weapons to the group, as such multilateral tools are indispensable in the situation.  However, the transition plan must also be implemented for Somalia to ensure its own security.  Calling for the African Union to take over for the AMISOM mandate by 2022, he voiced regret that the full report on the issue had not been submitted within the specified timeframe.  A decision must be made as quickly as possible to restrain Al‑Shabaab’s freedom of action.  He also emphasized the urgent need to find an effective, collective and lasting solution for financing, stating the European Union provides a substantial portion with regards to other partners on Somalia.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, acknowledging that despite delays, Somali political actors have been able to conclude elections of the Upper House and move on to the House of the People.  Women must be allowed to participate as candidates and as voters in safety, he emphasized, expressing regret that the 30 per cent female quota was not met.  Furthermore, it is important to conclude the elections so focus can be shifted to reforms, such as security sector reform and the integration of security forces, which will be fundamental for the transfer of security duties to Somalia. In that context, he expressed hope that the strategic review of UNSOM will establish clear targets that facilitate transfer of such responsibilities to the national Government.  He went on to condemn the use of sexual violence in armed conflict and demanded that all parties put an end to the recruitment and the use of minors in such conflicts.

ABUKAR DAHIR OSMAN (Somalia), highlighting the successful completion of elections for Somalia’s Upper House, said that 26 per cent of the seats therein have gone to women.  Lower House elections have already begun, and federal and state‑level electoral implementation teams will ensure that at least 82 of the 275 seats will be reserved for women.  He stressed that holding free and credible parliamentary and presidential elections has always been the Government’s stated policy.  Election delays, in many respects, have resulted from the need to ensure that all stakeholders are both informed of and accept the process.

Turning to post‑2021 security arrangements, he said that the Somalia Transition Plan is a sustainable approach for countering Al‑Shabaab while building Somalia’s core security functions and recovering strategic locations.  To this end, the Government has engaged with the African Union Commission and AMISOM to finalize the concept of operations as required by the Security Council mandate.  Although this process has stalled, he expressed hope that it will resume before the end of 2021.  He also underscored that the Government will not accept any African Union‑United Nations hybrid multidimensional mission in Somalia.

Source link

Author: Editor
Editor represents multiple online news sites, including STL.News, RSSNews.Press and more. We believe that our "direct source news" concept helps provide accurate information to the public without bias. We want to help improve technology so the news is presented as it was intended to be.