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Somali gov't, people welcome Istanbul conference

Sunday, June 03, 2012

MOGADISHU, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Somali government and ordinary people said on Sunday it welcomed the international conference on Somalia that was wrapped up in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Saturday with a promise of more help for the war-torn country.

The two-day conference was attended by representatives of more than 50 countries and regional and international organizations called for an economic recovery.

The Somali government said in a statement that it considers the calls for economic recovery in Somalia "an important milestone."

"By addressing the economic issues and chronic impoverishment, the Somali people will have new opportunities for jobs – which could be alternatives to the violence - especially for the youth," a government statement said.

The Istanbul conference which is a follow-up to a similar one held in the British capital of London two months ago.

Somali government is pushing a process to end the transitional period by August 20 this year with a new constitution, parliament, and president.

It said it was committed to follow the timetable of ending the transition in August and that it has already cleared a number of political challenges that indicate its commitment to end the transition on time.

Somali government which is fighting deadly insurgency has called for the strengthening of its security forces to enable them to better deal with the radical group of Al-Shabaab which has recently merged with al Qaida.

"The international community has an important role to play in Somalia, especially providing the necessary support to create professional army and police forces that will be responsible to maintain the security of the country," the Somali government said, added that a strong national army was a pre-requisite for maintaining security in the war ravaged the country.

Ordinary Somalis expressed optimism about the Istanbul conference on Somalia, saying the gathering which brought together key Somali political and community figures as well as international leaders will help in the reconciliation and reconstruction of the country.

Suldan Mohamed Hassan Hayow, local Mogadishu clan elder said he welcomed the outcome of the Istanbul conference.

"We welcome the conference in Istanbul hosted by the Turkish government which has passed through many stages. The conference brought better hopes for the Somali people and their interests and will play an important role in the country because the top Turkish leaders; the prime Minister and his wife were the most senior people to come to this country in affliction and thus turned the world's attention to our plight," Elder Hayow told Xinhua.

Ahmed Yusuf Ibrahim, an academic in the Somali capital Mogadishu said the Istanbul talks was a welcome move that marked the beginning of the end of the violence in Somalia.

"I personally welcome the gathering in Turkey and I fully support the outcome. We as the people of Somalia thank Turkish government and people for their pacification and humanitarian efforts for the Somali people and I hope this conference will help in ending the two-decade old crisis in our country," said Ibrahim.

Participants at the Istanbul conference urged the Somali government to work towards good governance and to end the decade- long transitional period by implementing the roadmap for ending the transition agreed upon by Somali leaders last year.


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