, LONDON, Feb 24 – The London Conference on Somalia held at Lancaster House, has ended with a call for the convening of a Constituent Assembly in Somalia, among a raft of other agreements aimed at helping the war-torn nation emerge from a critical humanitarian situation and stabilise.
Convened at a defining moment in Somalia’s history when the Transitional Federal Institutions comes to an end in August 2012, the conference, attended by President Mwai Kibaki among other leaders from across the world, acknowledged that the situation in Somalia remains precarious and in urgent need of support from the international community.
During the conference, world leaders agreed to inject new momentum into the political process in Somalia, strengthen the African Union Mission (AMISOM); help the nation develop its own security forces, build stability at local level, and step up action to tackle pirates and terrorists.
In a communiqué read at the end of the conference by the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom William Hague, participants at the conference agreed that the mandate of the Transitional Federal Institutions which ends in August this should not be extended.
The conference therefore endorsed existing agreements that chart the way towards more representative government in Somalia, namely the Transitional Charter, The Djibouti Agreement and the Kampala Accord.
As a short term solution, the conference endorsed the priority of convening a Constituent Assembly to replace the Transitional Federal Parliament.
It is expected that the Constituent Assembly will prepare a constitution as well as appoint a new Interim Authority with the task of establishing the institutions of government and preparing elections.
The conference emphasised that although there was international momentum and goodwill to help the Somali people, Somalia’s future rests with the people of Somalia. In this regard, the conference stressed the need for future political leadership in Somalia to be accountable to all people.
Leaders attending the conference further agreed to incentives progress on the political process and stressed the need to act against spoilers to the peace process. The conference agreed that proposals in this regard would be considered before the Istanbul Conference which will be held in June.
With respect to security and justice, the conference affirmed that these were essential both to a successful political process and to development. It noted that better security could only be achieved sustainable in parallel with better justice and rule of law.
In this connection, the participants at the conference acknowledged the contribution of those countries whose troops had served as peacekeepers and paid tribute to the achievements of AMISOM and other forces.
Encouraging AMISOM to continue protecting civilians, the conference urged partners and new donors to contribute towards funding AMISOM including through the European Union.
With respect to piracy, the conference reiterated the determination of the international community to eradicate piracy noting that the problem requires a comprehensive approach on land as well as at sea.
The conference further welcomed the success of international military efforts and affirmed commitment to such military efforts with robust rules of engagement and sufficient force generation.
It also called for greater development of judicial capacity to prosecute and detain those behind piracy both in Somalia and in the wider region.
In addition, the conference welcomed new arrangements which enable some states and naval operations to transfer suspected pirates captured at sea for trial by partners across the Indian Ocean regions, and if convicted, to transfer them to prisons in Puntland and Somaliland which meet international standards.
Regarding terrorism, leaders at the talks agreed to work together, and with full respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, build capacity to disrupt terrorism in the region, and to address the root causes of terrorism.
The conference further reached consensus on the importance of disrupting terrorists’ travel to and from Somalia and on the importance of disrupting terrorist finances.
The meeting called on countries in the region to implement the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Noting that effective intelligence gathering and investigation were critical to success in fighting terrorism, the conference underlined the need to support the Somali criminal justice system and to work closely with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and other international and regional bodies in mobilizing intelligence information.
On the humanitarian crisis, the conference expressed concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis and committed to providing humanitarian aid. Participants emphasised the need to explore needed humanitarian commitments to support livelihoods as well as emergency aid in worst affected areas.