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Weekly Press Conference on the Progress of the Government – Nov 1, 2014

Mogadishu, 01 November 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: the delivery of food aid to Barawa; details of the explosives and military equipment intercepted at Mogadishu seaport; the South West State conference; the progress of the National Stabilization Plan; a joint security update by AMISOM and SNA; the historic visit by United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon; the Youth Consultation Meeting; and the release of seven Indian sailors who were being held by pirates.

The Minister of Information began by speaking on the delivery of food aid to Barawa: “The Ministry of Interior & Federal Affairs delivered food aid, which included large quantities of rice and flour, to Barawa district on 28 October 2014. Barawa was one of the areas most recently recovered from Al-Shabaab control. Barawa residents had previously felt extreme hardship under the rule of the terror group. Hassan Mohamed Abukar of the Somali National Army (SNA), stated that SNA had escorted the food aid into the town without incident, whereas Al-Shabaab had previously blocked all aid convoys from reaching the area. The food aid is the beginning of more assistance to the area and the Federal Government is committed to reaching out to all the residents of Lower Shabelle so that people can feel the peace dividend.”

The Minister of Information gave details of the explosives and military equipment intercepted at Mogadishu Seaport: “Officers of the Somali Police Force (SPF), during a routine search in Mogadishu Seaport, found a shipping container filled with explosives and other military equipment, including military uniforms. Cornel Mohamed Abdi Eebow, the Police Chief at the seaport, stated, ‘One of my officers found the container and immediately alerted me, resulting in the seizure of all the items in the container by the police. H.E. Khalif Ahmed Ereg, the Minister of National Security, praised the Somali security forces for their interception of the container, and the Minister said that a thorough investigation would be carried out to find out how the container (which originated in China) ended up at Mogadishu Seaport. A company called BIL were the registered owners of the container and police are questioning those believed to be responsible for the container and its contents. Items in the container were clothes, military uniform, military boots, magnetic items intended for use in roadside bombs and other bomb components. The container arrived at the port on 22 October 2014 and the registrar of the container has been detained by the police.”

xasan iyo cabdiweliThe Minister of Information spoke on the South West Formation Conference: “H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, officially opened the Baidoa Conference on 28 October 2014 with a view to establishing the South West State of Somalia. H.E. Mohamed Sheikh Osman (Jawari) has been in Baidoa prior to the opening of the conference, consulting with key stakeholders in the area. Representatives from the parliament and the cabinet as well as representatives from the International Community, Constituency Assembly members and many others attended the conference. Traditional leaders underscored their happiness at the conference, which aims for the efficient formation of South West State of Somalia. Denmark’s Ambassador to Somalia stated that his country will host an important meeting in Copenhagen on 19 November to discuss the future of Somalia and he said that he was very pleased with the progress on the ground. The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN, Nicholas Kay, stated that the UN will support the conference and its outcomes in order to establish a new Federal Unit in the area. The Speaker noted the important role of Traditional Leaders and called for the convening of a consultation meeting between Jubba and South West State (once its formed). The President officially opened the meeting and urged stakeholders to ensure that they all look at the bigger picture and the interests of the nation during the process of forming the new Federal State. The President thanked the International Community’s commitment and support to the process of the formation of South West State of Somalia.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the progress of the Stabilization Process: “Somali security forces conducted operations in Mogadishu on 28 October 2014, and seized illegal weapons in various parts of Mogadishu. As a result, security forces detained 9 individuals believed to be part of Al-Shabaab in Dayniile area. They also raided a house where illegal weapons were buried under the floor after a tip-off from a member of the public. Security forces also detained a number of suspects in the area of Howl-Wadaag district, near Bakara market. The Mogadishu Stabilization Process is going very well as security forces are continually preventing attacks on civilians in Mogadishu. The security forces praised and highlighted the role of communities in identifying those they believed to be members of Al-Shabaab.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the joint security update between AMISOM and the SNA that highlighted the success of Operation Indian Ocean: “On 27 October 2014, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, attended a joint ceremony between AMISOM and the SNA to highlight the progress of Operation Indian Ocean. Representatives from the cabinet, the parliament, H.E. Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union to Somalia, General Silas Ntigurirwa, the AMISOM Force Commander, and other guests were present during the ceremony which took place the headquarter of the Ministry of Defense in Mogadishu. Operation Indian Ocean has been hugely successful, with forces liberating town and after town from Al-Shabaab, including Barawa, Jala-laqsi, Buulo-mareer, El-bur, Adale, Kudha and other towns. Major General Dahir Adan Elmi (Indho-Qarshe), the Chief of the Defense Forces, noted that Somali forces are fighting on the frontlines while internal reforms and restructuring is going: a challenge, but one the SNA is handling. The Commander said that the reforms would continue in order to professionalize SNA. HE the President of Somalia closed the ceremony and underscored the importance of security in Somalia and noted that the government will do all it can to provide the necessary resources. In addition, the President added 60 days more to the amnesty for Al-Shabaab militiamen, provided that they renounce violence and are ready to join the peace process and participate in the rebuilding of the nation. The President sent his congratulatory remarks to SNA and AMISOM for their sacrifices and the huge progress made in the military campaign against terrorists. He concluded by noting that the threat from al-Shabaab remained but was taking a different form, as the fight moved from being one over territory to a fight over the perceptions of the people. He encouraged the people to play their part in defeating al-Shabaab once and for all by remaining vigilant and cooperating with the security forces.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the historic visit by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon: “On 29 October 2014, HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister met in Mogadishu with a delegation led by the Secretary General of the UN, and which also included the President of World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, the President of Islamic Development Bank, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, and senior officials from the African Development Bank, the AU, the EU and other dignitaries. Ban Ki-Moon thanked the Somali President for the warm welcome accorded to him and to his delegation in Mogadishu and he acknowledged the huge progress on the ground between when he visited in 2011 and now. Ban Ki Moon said that he has two messages, one to acknowledge the progress in political affairs, good governance, security and development in Somalia, and second, that the UN, World Bank, IDB, ADB, EU, AU and others are committed to supporting the Somali people so that the country can move forward. “Somalia is on the right path. We are here in Mogadishu to tell Somali people that they are not alone, and that we will redouble our efforts to help Somalia so that the progress is maintained.” Jim Yong Kim, the President of World Bank, stated that Somalia has a unique opportunity on the country’s economic sector so that the people are able to produce goods that can reduce the dire poverty in many parts of the country. H.E. Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Somalia, stated that there are numerous examples of progress in terms of implementing the Federal system and that the country is on track to hold elections by 2016. Somali President said that Somalia can now stand on its own feet, and that the Government is committed to ensuring that the country moves forward to prosperity. The President concluded that the visit is a strong sign of solidarity that will encourage everyone to redouble their efforts to bring peace and stability in Somalia. At the conclusion of the visit, Somalia and the UN signed an agreement of partnership.”

The Minister of Information spoke on the Youth Consultation: “On 30th October, I participated in a consultation meeting in Mogadishu organized by Somali National Youth. The aim of the meeting was to discuss and debate the role of youth in Somalia and how youth can participate effectively in politics. Other issues discussed included the obstacles or challenges faced by young people in Somalia, including access to education, employment, job creation, and the lure of terrorist groups. The meeting took place in the Somali National Youth offices in Mogadishu and was organized by the Chairperson of the SNY. I was very pleased to witness genuine debate and discussion on key issues that matter to our young people, which gave me real hope. We need to do all we can to support young people’s participation in politics in Somalia. I promise that the government will support young people who want to take an active role in the society. I also promised to prioritize young people’s programs at Radio Mogadishu and at SNTV, which will further empower young people. Debate and discussion of this kind will prevent young people from joining terrorist groups.”

The Minister of Information spoke finally on the release of seven (7) Indian sailors who had been held by a pirate gang: “The Federal Government of Somalia with the support of Galgadud Authority and other stakeholders in the area successfully negotiated the release of seven sailors from India who had been in the hands of pirates for 4 years. On 30 October all seven individuals were flown from Dhuusamareeb district in Galgadud region in a specially chartered plane provided by the Federal Government of Somalia. The seven men had been held in the area of Harardhere after pirates hijacked their ship. The ship was released some time ago after pirates were paid a ransom. All seven have now been transferred to neighbouring countries with a view to passing them over to Indian government and subsequently returning them to their families.”

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

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