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Bipartisan resolution focuses attention on challenges in Somalia and calls on the U.S. Government to formulate comprehensive strategy

Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Mark Dayton (D-MN)

May 3rd, 2006 - Washington, D.C. - Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), along with Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Mark Dayton (D-MN), introduced a Sense of the Senate resolution yesterday calling on the United States to increase its support to the people of Somalia in their efforts to establish a stable democratic government. The resolution outlines U.S. priorities in Somalia and urges the federal government to take an active role in helping Somalia overcome decades of violence, neglect and civil strife.

“It is my hope that this resolution will bring attention to the problems plaguing Somalia and provide guidance for U.S. policy in the region,” Coleman said. “For years, political unrest has devastated this country with violence, starvation and disease and the United States has not done enough to help. We need to broaden our lines of communication with their political leaders and make a more concerted effort to address the humanitarian and democratic crisis currently unfolding.”

Since the United States withdrew its armed forces from Somalia in 1994 the country has struggled to stabilize their government and has endured years of political strife and violence as a result. While a transitional government was assembled in August 2004, escalating tensions between certain clans have undermined its ability to function. Wide-ranging levels of human rights abuses have been reported and Somalia's inability to establish a strong, central government leaves the region extremely vulnerable for potential terrorist activity.

“I believe the United States has a vital security interest in helping Somalia succeed,” Coleman said. “The lack of mature political institutions, protracted state of instability, porous borders and geographic location make it a potential location for international terrorists seeking a transit or launching point to conduct operations. As we saw in Afghanistan, failed states are a recipe for instability and terrorist activity.”

As senator from the state with the largest Somali community in the country, Coleman has become personally involved in dealing with issues related to Somalia.

“Through interaction with my Somali constituents I have worked to be the voice of the Somali community in Washington, D.C.” Coleman said. “I have made it a priority of mine to convey their concerns and ideas to various government officials and I will continue to facilitate dialogue among the different Somali political groups. The United States has an obligation to help put a stop to this chaos and I believe we can play a valuable role in establishing a stable, democratic government for the people of Somalia.”

Specifically, the resolution: expresses support for a democratic system in Somalia; calls on the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive stabilization and reconstruction strategy that aligns humanitarian, development, economic, political, counterterrorism, and regional strategies; urges the U.S. to provide training and support to the Transitional National Government to fight terrorism and extremism in addition to strengthening civil society; and calls on the U.S. to send a special envoy to Somalia to help guide and inform U.S. policy of Somalia.
Leroy Coleman, (202) 224-5641

Source: www.coleman.senate.gov, May 3, 2006

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