President of the FR of Somalia National Workshop on Social Reconciliation and Civic Dialogues

Ministers/Members of parliament Ladies and Gentlemen There is a Somali proverb that says, ‘Sticks in a bundle cannot be broken.
For too long, our nation has been bathed by the spilling of blood.

Each one of us has been touched by hatred, by violence, by conflict. Each one of us made decisions based on the need to survive: whether that was to leave, or stay- we have all come from a common place of needing to fight to live.

But this is not the way of our future. Somalia has invested a generation of lives in conflict. We must now invest a generation of lives in peace.

Peace does not automatically fill the vacuum left by conflict. Peace is a decision, a choice, an act of will. Peace comes not just through putting our weapons aside, but choosing to join our hands in friendship. Peace comes by choosing forgiveness over resentment and revenge. Peace is built on the back of progress; it rests on the shoulders of purpose and prosperity.

We have walked a long way towards peace and prosperity over the past three years. We have set some ambitious goals, encapsulated in Vision 2016: a new Constitution, a new national structure through the creation of formal federal states, and the opportunity for all to elect their chosen representatives in national elections in 2016.

To make these things happen is to craft a nation, and a nation can only be crafted through the will of its people.
Somalia’s future depends not only on whether Vision 2016 is achieved, but on how it is achieved. Participation, inclusion and good governance will be critical to both the validity of the process and the results. The leadership and visibility of the Government in putting together the plans, managing the activities and reporting on results will be crucial.

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We have the opportunity now to ensure the broad participation that is a hallmark of a functioning democracy. The FGS must seize the initiative now to lead the discussion, and ensure the voice of Somalis at the population level.

I am delighted to hear of the discussions that have taken place here over the past two days. I am very pleased to hear that work has been undertaken to agree on a joined up approach to national social reconciliation and civic dialogues.

Communities must understand why Vision 2016 is the way forward, and understand the tangible political transformation benefits arising from it: voice, participation, representation.

Clearly, there is much discussion of the national 2016 elections- what form will they take, how will they be managed and what results will they deliver.
The Federal Government- at various levels, and led by the National Leadership Forum, is discussing how best to ensure that we have national consensus on the modality of the 2016 national election.

We are committed to establishing a modality that supports political inclusion, resulting in free, fair, credible and democratic elections. This means that we need to consider models that ensure all voices are heard in the discussions that are held to decide on that modality. We must demonstrate that the Federal Government is responsive, and committed to the principles published in the Somali Compact of inclusivity through bottom-up approaches.

This is why a Somali-led, nationally cohesive process around civic dialogues is essential. Civic dialogues will allow the Federal Government to ‘take the temperature’ of the population and use that information to inform an election process that is seen as valid. They can be used to move groups of people towards consensus, based on their own input and encourage and make people feel safe to give their opinion.

I recognise too, that we must foster reconciliation at all levels: social, political, across all strata of our society. Social reconciliation requires a real dialogue about the past, conducted in a safe setting, to enable people to come to terms with their experiences, and reconstruction of the channels of communication and institutions that will allow people to live harmoniously together.

I was encouraged to hear from you today about the range of conversations that have been held across the past three days, and the extensive work being undertaken to develop a uniformed and consistent national framework for social reconciliation and civic dialogue activities across the districts in Somalia, ensuring that these activities match up with regional and national level efforts.

I have heard today – and I am pleased to hear – that the proposed social reconciliation and civic dialogue bottom up program is based on the premise that communities cannot share permanent local administration or resources when they see each other as the enemy. I agree that social reconciliation will help to unlock the deep-seated mistrust between divided communities.

It is clear that community-driven social reconciliation is imperative to create space for peaceful civic dialogues that foster agreements on co-existence, and political accommodation across all communities.

It is essential that this direct engagement with the public through dialogue and planned, monitored interaction builds and restores trust and confidence across Somalia in the government. It is essential that we are able to together tangibly demonstrate that we are committed to ensuring a peaceful, participatory process that results in a unified Somalia.

I congratulate the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs for their commitment in promoting this Somali- led agenda.

Over the past two and a half years, Somalia has invested in building the mechanisms, processes and systems that will underpin a functioning state. Turning what has been discussed over the past two days into concrete activities will be the proof that we are mature enough to plan for and safeguard the democratic transition of power within that state.

I am delighted that the Federal Government has been front and centre in these discussions. We must be clear in our leadership, in our agenda-setting. We must be committed to robust political progress.

The Federal Government has been very active in ensuring that political activity is Somali-owned and led. With any large-scale political endeavour that results in profound change, we must be sure that those changes, and the process we arrive at that change through do not create the very conflict it is designed to prevent in future.

In particular, this philosophy and approach applies to the process of state formation, or, forming a federalised Somalia. Over the past almost three years, I have led a process of dialogue and negotiation through which two interim regional administrations have been created.

Holding reconciliation conferences in different regions of Somalia is a model that has worked very well in building the foundations of stable interim regional administrations, in preparation for more formal establishments when various pieces of national legislation and the Federal Constitution have been completed.

It is testament to the progress Somalia has made that to date, the establishment of interim regional administrations has been accomplished peacefully.

Over the coming months, the Federal Government will seek to support the creation of the remaining interim regional administrations. The task then is to properly equip and resource them, so that they are strong examples of good governance and are able to begin facilitating public service delivery to the population.

Ladies and gentlment: I opened my remarks today by drawing your attention to a Somali proverb: Sticks in a bundle cannot be broken. Our achievements and progress to date have been made possible by the determination and resilience of the Somali people, and the partnership of the international community. We have proven we cannot be broken, and we must continue to stick together.

Ultimately, success in Somalia will be measured by the impact on the life of Somali people. With your ongoing interest and support, we look forward to making this possible.

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