Lancaster House (MIC) A few weeks ago, I planted a young sapling in the garden at Villa Somalia to raise the issue of deforestation, and it got me thinking – what does a young sapling need for it to grow into a strong, healthy tree?
It needs to be supported with a strong stake; it needs to be watered and fed; and it needs to be protected from animals that try to eat its soft bark and kill it.
And so it is with this young sapling we have all planted, called Somalia. We need support; we need assistance and investment; and we need protection from those who try to knock us over.
The first period of growth is always the most hazardous; where the most support and protection is needed. But as the bow thickens and strengthens, the tree needs less and less support, until finally it stands proud and tall and strong all on its own.
My vision is for a Federal Somalia at peace with itself and its neighbours and which poses no threat to the world; a Somalia with a resurgent economy, thriving small and medium sized business ventures and sustainable employment so that families are properly provided for; a Somalia with values of kindness, respect and human rights, all underpinned by an education system that harnesses our intellectual spirit.
So we are here today to begin a four-year process that must begin with considerable investment and support but which I hope will finish with very little.
Heads of State and Governments, Excellencies, Ambassadors, Special Representatives, Honored Guests – the Prime Minister and I welcome you to the second Somalia Conference in London.
Mr. Prime Minister, I wholeheartedly thank you and your government for your personal engagement in shaping our future and for your support in hosting this Conference. I particularly congratulate you for re-opening your Embassy on our soil in Mogadishu after more than two decades absence.
People may ask why Somalia matters at this time but there is a huge amount at stake right now: the future of our country, the security of the region and the wider world, and the removal of the piracy stranglehold on the Gulf of Aden.
I know you all understand this and I fully appreciate the political capital being invested to support Somalia.
Since the last meeting held here in London more than one year ago, more has been achieved than anyone would ever have imagined. In just one year the cornerstones of a new Somalia have been successfully and peacefully laid.
The political transition has ended and I stand here as the elected President of a sovereign nation, with an elected Speaker leading a new Parliament representative of all the regions and all communities and with a legitimate and effective government delivering our Six Pillar Policy Framework – the foundation of a new beginning. Progress has defied the skeptics. Somalia has rejoined the world community.
Under my leadership, we offer the world a legitimate partner you can trust, hard at work to deliver an integrated national security plan; economic reform and new financial management systems; rule of law and judicial reform; and an environment conducive to commercial growth. We are achieving real progress week by week, month by month. But challenges do remain.
Despite being militarily defeated, Al Shabaab have melted into society and begun a new phase of insurgency and a campaign of terror – an experience I know that Great Britain comprehends as well as any other. Our Constitution is only partially complete. Piracy must come to an end. Millions of Somalis still live in desperate conditions as refugees in neighbouring countries or as internally displaced persons in their own country. And we lack developed government institutions, schools, hospitals, roads, sanitation and other basic services.
As you will hear over the coming hours, however, we come to London to share with you our detailed plans to address these challenges.
We are rebuilding our armed forces. We are restructuring and developing our police force. We are reforming our justice sector. And we are revolutionizing our public finance management systems. We are driving Somalia from emergency to recovery; and from recovery to development and reconstruction.
Ultimately, however, it will be a Somali owned solution that will fix Somalia, but no country has ever recovered from such social and economic collapse without the help of the world. And so in partnership with our endeavors, we respectfully ask for your total and unflinching commitment, partnership and support. We hope that you will agree how you can support the implementation of our plans and put an end to our dependence on the international community.
The Federal Government of Somalia has now laid down the foundations for a new public finance management mechanism, which we believe will give enable our donors to agree funding arrangements with the confidence that funds will reach their intended recipient.
The progress that has been made in Somalia over the past three years would not have been possible without the courageous support of IGAD, the African Union and our brothers and sisters in AMISOM and the ultimate sacrifice paid by many brave African soldiers. We owe to it their memory to ensure that we do not take one single step backwards.
The progress that has been made in Somalia over the past three years would also not have been possible without the committed support of the United Nations, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. We owe it to the publics who contribute to these governments and institutions to see this process through to a successful conclusion.
We are also indebted to the kindness and generosity of countries like Turkey, Norway, the Arab League member states and other countries. Your assistance over the past few years has spread hope and belief among our people.
We welcome UNSOM, the new United Nations Mission in Somalia, and we are grateful for the consultation offered in agreeing both the mandate and the appointment of the SRSG. We congratulate His Excellency Mr. Nicholas Kay on his appointment as SRSG. We are looking forward receiving him and the new UN mission in Mogadishu. I wish to thank Ambassador Mahiga, the outgoing SRSG, for his relentless and determined efforts in leading the design of the roadmap and seeing the transition through. Our best wishes and tributes go to him. The people of Somalia are eternally grateful.
Winning the war in Somalia has been proved. Winning the peace in Somalia will take patience and great skill. We are at a critical junction. The time is now.
We have little time today and lots to achieve. All of us, especially those in the background who have worked so hard to make this conference happen, will want to depart with a real sense of progress.
I thank you all for coming, and for your dedicated support. Together we can make Somalia strong again. A tree standing tall in the African bush with deep roots binding it securely to its region and offering shade and protection to its people as they rebuild their lives.