The Somalia Minister for Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation Ahmed Maalim spoke to Aggrey Mutambo on the challenges the government is facing in rebuilding the country.
What are the challenges in rebuilding Somalia today?
Somalia’s main challenge is terrorism from groups like Khawarij (Al-Shabaab) and Daesh.
Somalia is also faced with recurring droughts and flooding. And with terrorist groups operating in the country, it is difficult and nearly impossible for the government to respond to these disasters adequately.
These groups have blocked access to the affected communities and completely cut off the regions from the rest of the country and humanity.
No government can plan a humanitarian agenda to save the lives of thousands of Somali women and children dying of hunger and diseases or plan to implement any development agenda to rebuild the country when controlling only a fraction of the Somali territory.
These people have often been left to odd choices: They are either destroyed by the terrorists who have invaded their land or they surrender to them.
Somalia’s post-war rebuilding has been partly hurt by a continual arms embargo by the UN Security Council, is the federal government making any efforts to have the ban lifted soon?
The federal government strongly believes that due to the success of efforts to strengthen its capacity and capabilities on Weapons and Ammunition Management in recent years, the necessary progress is being made to realise the total lifting of the partial arms embargo.
Most notably, the federal government has put in place several significant policies, procedures, and frameworks to effectively manage the Somali Security Forces’ weapons and ammunitions. Furthermore, remarkable progress has been made in the implementing strategy, policies, and procedures.
We have made positive strides toward establishing an effective and efficient weapons and ammunition management system for the SSF to accomplish the total lifting of the arms embargo.
The National Security Office continues to provide overall political and policy direction for Weapons and Ammunition Management, in addition to being responsible for the successful implementation of the benchmarks for the arms embargo. Hopefully, we will see this reach a completion point.
Lately, there have been problems with the relations between Puntland and the federal government. What is the source of the problem, and how are you solving it?
Puntland is a significant member of our Federal Member States (FMS) and has always played a pivotal role in the country’s political processes and the resurgence of the Somali state. As a federal republic, Somalia is united by a common goal, which is to prosper and thrive as a people and a nation. As with any federal system, the federal government is responsible for dealing with issues that affect all citizens.
However, resolving differences between different regions and entities can be challenging, especially in a post-conflict society like ours. One of the most effective ways to address these issues is through constructive engagement and dialogue. It remains the government’s priority to complete the provision of the Constitution and finalise our federal model. With such goals, it is expected to have differences in opinions, but it is all something that can be discussed by dialogue. Having different states leave the discussion table has happened before, but by discussing these outstanding and complex issues, we will find common ground and work towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Despite the difference in opinion, the FGS (federal government of Somalia) remains committed to engaging with Puntland authorities, as we firmly believe that cooperation and compromise are necessary to advance the shared goals of our nation. At the last NCC held in Baidoa, a committee of three FMS leaders was formed to meet with PL authorities and persuade them to return to the NCC forum and the discussion table. We firmly believe that the best way to resolve the political differences in Somalia is through peaceful and cooperative means. We can work towards a brighter future for all Somalis with constructive engagement and dialogue.
Las Anod clashes have been attracting international attention. Who is to blame, and how are you dealing with the problem?
As a government, we do not focus on assigning blame but rather on finding a lasting peaceful solution that benefits our citizens while providing quick humanitarian support for the victims of these unfortunate clashes. With that said, there are several government initiatives for a ceasefire.
The Federal Government will not allow an administration that is part of the Republic of Somalia to oppress or force the hand of a Somali Citizen. The President has spoken about this matter, addressing both parties to resolve it peacefully. In my capacity as the Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation, I have also spoken up against the clash in Las Anod including on February 7th, 2023, where I stated the government’s stance which is the responsibility to uphold the democratic principles of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the protection of their rights, properties and freedom.
That being said, the government of Somalia welcomes the choices and wants of the people of Las Anod. We ask that this matter be resolved peacefully through dialogue and reconciliation.
By AGGREY MUTAMBO