The Opening speech of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the HLPF meeting
H.E. The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia
Opening Speech – HLPF Istanbul
23 Feb 2016
Your Excellency, President Erdogan
Excellency Jan Eliasson
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honor to be here today. I thank President Erdogan and the Government of Turkey for their hospitality and leadership in hosting the 3rd ministerial HLPF. Turkey has long been a friend of Somalia. This friendship has deepened in recent years, and we look forward to it growing stronger in the future.
Today this friendship between Turkey and Somalia has boosted and improved the lives of the Somali people.
Three years ago, we gathered together in Brussels to launch the New Deal Somalia Compact. As I look around the room I see many of the same faces that joined us there, are here today. We are very much grateful for that.
We have made quite a journey together. This journey was useful for Somalia the region and the African continent as a whole.
The New Deal Compact was launched as a new kind of aid mechanism, a mechanism built on a partnership between the Somali people, government and the international community.
It was designed to build a way of working together that allowed quick identification of national priorities, joint planning to address them, and delivery of activities in such a way as to build the capacity of Somali institutions and people.
The achievements and the challenges of the New Deal are well defined in the progress report in front of you. It has played a catalyst role to guide our political, security and development. The details of this will be presented and discussed by the members of my Government during this great meeting.
When we met in Brussels 3 years ago, we acknowledged that the situation in Somalia after 23 years of war, state collapse, a prolonged transitional period, and the operations of al-Shabaab, was risky. It would not be possible for advisers to join their counterparts in our ministries’ offices. We accepted that a fence would be built separating the international community from the country it was supporting- Somalia.
We acknowledged- three years ago- that because state collapse had been so monumental, and government institutions so decimated, that it would not be possible to provide direct budget support to the government of Somalia
We agreed that much work had to be done to restore financial institutions of the country, the systems and governance to such a level where the international community would trust the government enough to allow us to learn to manage our own finances.
We acknowledged – three years ago- that al-Shabaab was the single largest threat to Somalia’s stability. We acknowledged that there should be an African solution to African issues.
We agreed that the African Union would provide troops to destroy al Shabaab, liberate communities, and provide the space for stabilization activities. We agreed that swiftly developing the Somali national army and police force was imperative to ensure that Somalia could look after our own security; protect our own peace.
We acknowledged – three years ago- that Somalis must be lifted out of poverty, to enjoy the benefits of good health and education, to live better lives. We agreed that essential public services would be provided by our international partners to the most vulnerable people, whilst gradually building domestic revenue and capacity to enable the government to start to assume responsibility for caring for our own people.
We acknowledged – three years ago- that every Somali should benefit from the rule of law, that justice should be accessible to all, that human rights should provide the basis for the application of law and justice in Somalia. We agreed that reconciliation should be pursued, that the cycle of violence that had ruled Somalia for so long must be broken forever.
We acknowledged – three years ago- that Somalia, under the right conditions has enormous potential to generate and benefit from its own wealth. We agreed to quickly identify infrastructure needs and develop plans to fix them. We agreed that providing jobs to our young people so they were able to feed their own families was absolutely critical.
Somalia acknowledged its own imperfections. We turned the mirror on ourselves. We agreed with you- the international community- that change was necessary.
As a basis to all that we thought needed to change, perhaps the largest component was that of political transformation. We signed up to rewrite our provisional federal constitution, federalize our nation and hold democratic elections. All within four years.
Now the question is: what has happened?
I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in Somalia.
Within the three years of my government, we have recovered most of Somalia from al-Shabaab. We are the only country in the world who has been so successful in defeating extremism on its own soil. We have instituted all but one of the federal member states of our federation.
We have agreed the format of the revision, and revised a good proportion of the federal Constitution.
We have agreed the mechanism of the 2016 electoral process- the first democratic electoral model to be seen in Somalia in 47 years.
We have begun the process of troop integration and the formation of a functioning Somali National Army with a national character.
We have re-engineered how we count and pay our soldiers.
We have re-established the Central Bank, put in place a public financial management system, established external mechanisms of governance for oversight purposes.
We have delivered government annual work plans. We have developed a realistic and balanced federal budget. We have re-opened many Ministries that have not functioned for more than 2 decades.
We have developed and approved critical legislation from procurement laws, to counter-terrorism, to media and anti-money laundering acts, among many. We have signed up to and begun to develop plans that will enable us to protect the rights of children. We have refurbished our major port and opened an international airport terminal, which is very modern.
We have increased exports and grown domestic revenue with Somalia’s GDP rising steadily upwards from 3.7% in 2014. We have opened our books to the IMF review team.
We have invited our critics to sit at our table and dialogue with us on all issues.
We have opened our borders to establish new Embassies and develop fresh ties with old and new friends of the world. We have held and monitored the first nationally standard exams in more than two decades in our schools and education system.
We have built kilometres of roads to link up producers with markets. We have re-opened more than 100 schools, enrolled more than 100,000 students within 2 years.
We have provided access to maternal and child health services to hundreds of thousands of women and children.
Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen
This is extraordinary. But it begs the question, ‘Is it enough?’ It begs the question, ‘What must we do more of?’
As proud as I am of what my government, with your support has achieved over the past three years, I am also the first to say that we have much more to do.
It is not enough that we created 2500 jobs in 2015. With a population of 70% under the age of 30, we need hundreds of thousands of jobs. We must do more so that we have concrete projects all over Somalia– not just plans – that link youth development with education and with job creation.
It is not enough that we waited 3 years for small-scale infrastructure assessments to be completed. We must do more so that the upcoming dedicated infrastructure fund starts to quickly identify projects and then funds them adequately at the right time.
It is not enough that hundreds of thousands of Somali children are still not in school. It is not good enough that the first assessment of Somali schools is about to carried out only now- three years after we agreed that it was a first step.
We must do more so that we are training enough teachers, rolling out a national curriculum, ensuring that we do not have another lost generation without access to education as we have experienced in the last two decades.
It is not enough that we do not have women significantly represented in our political, institution and economic structures. We must do more to ensure their participation through proactive legislation and ratification of CEDAW as a priority.
It is not enough that our international partners are still largely based behind a fence. We must do more so that our Ministries and institutions are supported by on-ground advisers to support rapid capacity development.
It is not enough that although the government has worked tirelessly to tick the boxes, set up systems and processes that safeguard transparency and protect against corruption that we are still waiting for those three-year-old promises of direct budget support to materialize.
We must do more so that we are able to learn to manage our own resources, to prove that we can do it.
It is not enough that we are still waiting for al-Shabaab to be absolutely, conclusively defeated.
It is not good enough that troops must make horrendous sacrifices in the absence of a centrally coordinated command and control structure. We must do more so that the outdated arms embargo that limits our ability to provide our troops with the tools they need to bring security to Somalia is completely lifted.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen – what Somalia needs now is not caution and containment, but full-hearted engagement. What Somalia needs now is not cynicism but support. What Somalia needs now is rapid and full investment in real change: in change that makes a difference for Somalis all over Somalia.
We have five critical areas that we must deliver on together with you:
The first is the 2016 electoral process. After concluding that a ‘one person, one vote’ election process would not be possible, federal and regional leaders have agreed to a twin-track approach:
Designing, approving and rolling out of a compromise model for the 2016 electoral process, while simultaneously preparing for the 2020 process.
The greatest political challenge for 2016 will be to ensure compliance with and timely implementation of the electoral model, in parallel with the adoption of and early implementation of a road map for 2016-2020 and beyond.
The Federal Government is committed to the inclusive and transparent implementation of the 2016 electoral process as was demanded by our people in their own voices during the 2016 consultative process- a process widely recognized as the most inclusive and transparent democratic process in the recent Somali history.
Imagine a consultative process amongst thousands of Somalis, on one day across Somalia.
Let me be clear: no group or region in Somalia should feel their concerns will not be attended to in the 2016 process, and neither will anyone get everything they would like to have by themselves. I continue to believe very strongly that whatever disagreements exists; these are Somali problems that require Somali solutions and because the capacity and the willingness to meet these issues does exist in many cases and in many places, these political questions will be resolved only at home and with local engagement.
At this point in time the federal government has proposed a compromise model which has received the support of all regional administrations, but the Puntland state. My government will continue to do everything possible to seek and secure the support of all regional administrations. Time is not on our side but there will always be enough time do what is right for our country and so we will. I’m grateful to the leadership and support of everyone involved, and particularly the support of our international partners throughout the last attempts we made to fix the differences.
The second is security reform. Last year, I made commitments that must now be delivered on. We committed to building a more integrated, accountable and transparent security sector. We promised that the national security sector will be subject to rigorous oversight, and operate transparently in relation to personnel, purchases, salaries and operations. We promised this in order to exercise a responsive duty of care to men and women who are serving in our security sector.
Whilst we have made some steps in the right direction- beginning the process of counting and registering troops, improving the process of paying our soldiers on time, and beginning troop integration- but still it is not enough, much has to be achieved and will be soon, insha’Allah.
Critically, the governance and oversight structures of the security sector must be articulated and operationalized. To that end, finalizing the National Security Policy and the National Security Architecture are imperative.
In late 2015, the government conducted a rigorous security sector review. The National Threat Assessment was one of the products of this review.
The National Security Policy is in draft form. It sets out the underlying principles that will guide the conduct of our security ministries and forces, and provides the policy framework that will shape the detail of our security forces.
We have now developed a draft NSP that has been endorsed as a living document but we now need to take that to the Regional States for discussion and negotiation on the content and implementation.
I do not want the National Security Policy to be a document that sits on window sills and gathers dust. The policy has been designed to shape the implementation strategies of our ministries and agencies both at the federal and regional levels. I therefore intend to reinvigorate the National Security Council and to strengthen the ability of the central government and the regional states better to manage and coordinate security as an issue that cuts across Somalia.
The third critical area is use of the Country System. My government has made considerable progress in strengthening our public financial management system, and has delivered a balanced 2016 budget based on a sound fiscal principles, and solid expenditures control. The Somali Financial Information Management System has gone live and all transactions are processed with much greater transparency and control.
We have developed a road map for the use of the country system with clear benchmarks and indicators.
But these systems must now be used. It is quite simple. We cannot learn to manage without having anything to manage!
Last Saturday, I officially launched the Open Government Initiative. This initiative is based on fostering government to citizen transparency, accountability and participation. Transparency-to make Government information available to the public. Accountability to hold government actors responsible for their actions to the law, rules and regulations, and participation so that citizens can have their say in the future of Somalia.
The fourth critical area that we must see rapid and huge progress in is the creation of jobs for Somalia’s young people. I spoke at length on this topic in the November HLPF in Mogadishu last year. I will not dwell on this today, except to say that we will not have political stability nor national peace, if we continue to have a largely unemployed population, young people, without hope of supporting their own families or contributing to Somalia’s future.
We need a skilled population that can maintain the infrastructure investments we are starting to make. Vocational education is critical to ensuring that we give people these skills. Large-scale infrastructure projects that create jobs and wealth for Somalia are essential and we believe it’s around the corner.
The fifth critical area is about how Somalia manages its relationship with the international community. In 2013 we launched the New Deal Somali Compact, and this will come to an end in 2016.
Work is now progressing on a three-year National Development Plan, which must include political and security elements so that the holistic approach forged through the Somali Compact is not lost. The NDP is driven by a combination of small government, market-driven growth and a robust private sector.
Principles that guide the partnership between the government and international community after the end of the Compact must be developed and agreed in the coming months.
Programs and resources must be further aligned to Somalia’s national priorities. In particular, concrete steps must be taken to deliver more assistance through country systems, in response to improvements made to the government’s budget, expenditure and financial governance systems.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me once again thank the Republic of Turkey under the leadership of President Erdogan who hosted this great and august conference and their unwavering support for Somalis all over Somalia. Turkish hosts for their unwavering support to Somalia.
Let me acknowledge our friends and partners who have gathered here for these two days, which are so important for your support.
We are grateful for your support of Somalia. Let me acknowledge the people of Somalia and pledge that our discussions and decisions here will be in the best interests of a united Somalia. We need our international partners to send these messages also to our people: One Somalia. One sovereign, secure, and democratic Somalia. One Somalia at peace with itself and the world for the benefit of her people.