David Cameron and Mohamud hail ‘progress’ in Somalia

Lancaster House (MIC) UK Prime Minister David Cameron says Somalia has made “huge progress” in efforts to end more than two decades of conflict.

He is co-hosting a conference in London with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to help the East African state rebuild itself.

Somalia is widely regarded as a failed state, hit by an Islamist insurgency, piracy and a famine from 2010 to 2012.

Mr Mohamud said the government would take full control of security by 2015.

The government – which took office last year – depends on about 18,000 African Union (AU) troops to stay in power.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has waged an insurgency since 2007 to seize power and still controls much of the country.

Mr Cameron said the UK would finance efforts to rebuild Somalia’s security forces.

‘Government’s writ’

“I am pleased that Britain will commit £10m ($15.5m) to help develop Somalia’s armed forces and £14.5m to double the number of police officers and train judges and lawyers,” Mr Cameron said, at the conference.

The European Union (EU) pledged $58m (£37.3m) towards the initiative.

“In Somalia, like anywhere else, there can be no development without security,” it said in a statement.

The meeting follows similar conferences in London and the Turkish city of Istanbul last year, amid growing international concern that Somalia has turned into a haven for al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The new government is the first one in more than two decades to be recognised by the United States, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other key players who are attending the conference.

In a BBC interview, Mr Cameron said Somalia was “one of the most broken countries in the world” and the “writ of the government, as it stands today, doesn’t run a long way outside Mogadishu, but at least it has a government, it’s making a start and I think we’re seeing some real progress”.

Mr Cameron also held talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is attending the conference – his first visit to a Western country since his controversial election in March.

The UK had said it would have limited contact with him, as he been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with crimes against humanity over his alleged role in fuelling violence after the disputed 2007 election – charges he denies.

BBC Somali’s Farhan Jimale explains why Somalia matters

Mr Cameroon defended meeting Mr Kenyatta, saying he was co-operating with the ICC and Kenya was playing a vital role, along with other regional states, to beat back al-Shabab in Somalia.

The leaders of Ethiopia and Uganda, which have troops in Somalia fighting al-Shabab, are also at the conference.

Mr Mohamud told delegates that the cornerstones of a new Somalia had been laid since last year’s conference.

Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, webmaster@midnimo.com

midnimo12@googlemail.com

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