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Weekly Press Conference on the Progress of the Government

Mogadishu, 18 October 2014 – The Minister of Information, Mustafa Duhulow, today addressed the media, providing an update on the progress of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) over the last week. The Minister discussed various issues: HE the President’s visit to Barawa; the progress made in education in Somalia; the situation in El-Bur; the imminent prospect of Somalia attracting huge investment as a result of HE the President’s meeting with MEDEF in Paris; the progress of Operation Indian Ocean; the celebration of Somali flag day and the justice reform in Somalia.

The Minister of Information began by speaking on the historic visit to Barawa by the President of Somalia: “H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, visited Barawa district on 11 October 2014. Barawa was one of the areas recently recovered as part of Operation Indian Ocean and it was formerly a key stronghold of Al-Shabaab. Residents of the area welcomed the President with jubilation, coming out in huge numbers and showing their satisfaction at the end of Al-Shabaab tyranny. The residents sang patriotic songs throughout the President’s visit. Traditional Elders in the area spoke to the President and detailed their urgent needs: humanitarian assistance and medical supplies, both in desperately short supply as Al-Shabaab had looted all the medical equipment from the local hospital. The President congratulated people in the area for the part they played in removing Al-Shabaab from the area. The President promised to look at the requests from the elders as a matter of urgency and confirmed that the FGS and AMISOM already plan to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the area. In support of this, the President appealed to Somalis in the Diaspora to help support the people in the area. The President went on to note that Barawa is one of oldest cities in Somalia with a history of modernization and a proud Islam tradition and that all Somalis should ensure that the city will be one that revitalizes the historical image of Somalia. The President also stressed the importance of young people from Al-Shabaab renouncing violence and joining the peace process to help in the rebuilding of the nation. The President finally declared that the export of charcoal is illegal and the FGS will halt Al-Shabaab’s practice of exporting charcoal to fund their campaign of terror.”

The Minister of Information spoke on progress in the education sector: “I am very pleased to see that after lying dormant 24 years, the Somali National University has resumed classes. This is a clear sign that the education sector in Somalia is progressing. Additionally, on 14 October 2014 H.E. Olgen Bekar, the Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, donated 450 computers to SomaliREN at an event in Mogadishu. SomaliREN is one of the leading educational bodies in Somalia with membership of most of universities. Dahir Hassan Abdi (Arab), the Chairman of SomaliREN thanked the Turkish Government for providing, for the second time, such valuable support to universities in Somalia. These computers will be shared amongst the universities in Somalia including Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia. The Chairman stressed the need for the management of Somali universities to ensure that these computers are used effectively so that the quality of education in Somalia improves. Turkey has consistently supported the education sector by providing materials such as computers, awarding scholarships to students and teachers and by opening education centers across Somalia. The Turkish Ambassador to Somalia stated that Somalia is now ready to stand on its own feet and that is because Turkey has proven itself always ready to assist. The ambassador stated that Turkey would continue to support the education sector in Somalia, a key to the development of Somali society.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the dire situation in El-Bur: “On 14 October 2014, a delegation from the Ministry of Interior & Federal Affairs, AMISOM and the UN visited El-Bur district in Galgadud region, one of the areas recently recovered from Al-Shabaab. The delegation met with officers from the Somali National Army and AMISOM who provided an update on the current situation in the area. The aim of the visit was partly to further the political outreach program and partly to assess the needs of the communities in the area with a view to providing the appropriate basic services. The delegation visited key infrastructure sites such as the hospital and to their surprise found an empty hospital with no medical equipment and no beds: Al-Shabaab looted the hospital as they left the city, leaving the people dangerously without medical care. The delegation also witnessed the dire situation in the villages surrounding the town and noted that it faces one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of recent times.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the imminent prospect of Somalia attracting huge investment as a result of the President’s meeting with MEDEF in Paris: “On 15 October, the President of Somalia met with representatives of the MEDEF institution in Paris during his official visit there. Around 6,000 investment companies are members of MEDEF and they have representatives around the globe: 800,000 international firms are members of MEDEF, working in work in Africa and in other continents. The President encouraged these companies to invest in Somalia as the country moves towards peace and stability. Somalia is strategically located and has significant natural resources. The President assured these companies that Somalia is open for business and will honour all agreements that are in the interest of the people and the nation. Somalia has the potential to provide an economic boost not only to Somalia but also to the region and to the companies themselves. Dr Ali Said Faqi, the Somalia Ambassador to EU who organized the meeting, stated that this meeting would enhance the relationship between France and Somalia. This is a clear sign that Somalia is moving forward and that the huge progress on the ground presents huge opportunities for investors.”

The Minister of Information praised security forces’ success as part of Operation Indian Ocean: “Somali National Army and AMISOM Operation Indian Ocean continue to roll back groups Al-Shabaab as well as stabilizing newly recovered areas. Security forces in Bakol region advanced recovered villages in Wajid and Tiyeglow districts from Al-Shabaab on 14th October 2014. Somali National Army and AMISOM continue to mount operations in South & Central Somalia. The operation is going very well with the forces denying Al-Shabaab the opportunity to reoccupy recovered areas by maintaining the pressure on them. The aim of these operations are to ensure that all newly recovered areas are free from terrorists so that the people in those areas can enjoy peace and stability, which in turn could help people to start new lives without fear or threat from terrorists. These stabilization process is progressing very well overall in all the newly recovered areas including recent liberated areas such as Barawa and Adale.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the celebration of the Somali Flag Day: “On 12 October 2014 the country celebrated the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the Somali flag in 1954. The President and the Speaker of the Parliament attended one of the events in Mogadishu to celebrate Somali Flag Day. Events also took place across all the regions of Somalia. The Speaker and the President highlighted the importance of the Flag Day and stated that the flag has a special significance as our grand fathers sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the country and establishing a flag that the world recognizes as the symbol of the independence of the country. Both leaders highlighted the importance of celebrating this historic day for Somalia and encouraged young people and children to hear our history, particularly the sacrifices that Somalis have made during the struggle to obtain independence. These celebrations are vital as they counter the narratives of terrorists groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Al-Shabaab who are uniformly against patriotism, nationalism and tradition.”

The Minister of Information finally spoke the Justice reform in Somalia: “5 day National conference on the reform of the justice sector was concluded on 17 October 2014 in Mogadishu. Participants included Lawyers, experts, civil society member, religious leaders and intellectuals from most of regions in Somalia. The aim of the conference was to review the current justice system and to advance the reform of the sector. The Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs thanked participants and stated that this conference is part of the consultation process that the ministry has been involved for some time. Justice is very important to the development of the country. The outcome of the conference included the urgent need to identify roles and responsibilities of Federal and regional courts, participants stressed the urgent need to establish the constitutional court of the country. Participants also requested the parliament to approve the outcome of the conference. The Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs stated that the outcome of the conference will be a pillar to the development of the justice sector in Somalia. The Minister stated that the ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs will continue to consult with all key stakeholders in the development of the justice sector in Somalia, which is important for the confidence building of the nation.”

ENDS Ministry of Information, Federal Republic of Somalia, media@moi.gov.so

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