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Solution to Somalia’s problems ‘easy’: Sharif

CHICAGO — Solving the civil strife and lawlessness which has ravaged Somalia for nearly two decades is an “easy” task that simply requires strong commitments, Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said.

“Finding a solution to the problem of Somalia is easy if there is strong willpower,” Sharif said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“If we think about it we can reach the solution.”

Institutions such as the judiciary and the military must be strengthened, Sharif said.

Schools, hospitals, roads and other critical infrastructure must be rebuilt.

And immediate humanitarian aid must reach the nearly four million Somalis — about a third of the population — suffering from a massive drought and internal displacement.

But despite the vast offensive launched by radical Islamists, Sharif — whose transitional government has the backing of the United Nations — said the Horn of Africa country is ready for peace.

“I believe these steps are not difficult and that it is appropriate to take that brave position to find a solution for Somalia,” he said through a translator.

“The Somali people have suffered long enough and both the people and the government are interested in solving the problem once and for all.”

Somalia has had no effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a bloody power struggle that has defied around a dozen different peace initiatives.

Asked why he believes he can succeed where others failed, the Islamic cleric cited his success in reducing the threat of kidnappings in Mogadishu and his commitment to peace.

“My government came out of a peace process and we are taking steps with the help of the international community to bring peace to Somalia,” he said.

“If we rebuilt the Somali forces and the institutions and humanitarian assistance is provided and the public services are returned, the extremists groups that are creating problems for the people cannot remain.”

However, he cautioned that “this problem can’t be solved without help from the international community” and said his first trip to the United States was focused on eliciting help he knew the nation was ready to give.

Source: AFP

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