South west Somali regions sign interim reconciliation agreement

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Addis Ababa, 24 June 2014 (WIC) - Somalia has today taken another step towards establishing inclusive federal states key to the country’s political processes, with warring factions in the South West regions of Somalia reaching an interim agreement.

Under the agreement negotiated by the Federal Government of Somalia, representatives of the South-west 6 Group and South-West 3 Group agreed to form an interim administration for the 3 regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle.
The interim administration is to be established within 30 days and the parties agreed to respect the Addis Ababa accord that established the Interim Administration of Juba in August 2013.

Speaking after the agreement was signed today, Hon. Lydia WanyotoMutende, Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) emphasized the importance of the ceremony, noting that AMISOM is proud to facilitate an environment where the Somali people can engage peacefully.

“The signing of today is very significant for the African Union but also for AMISOM who are on the ground in Somalia to provide as our mandate a conducive environment for the Somali people themselves to negotiate,” she said.

The Somali President H.E Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud stressed that tolerance and the engagement among the Somali people are factors towards ensuring unity and lasting peace.
“Today is the culmination of negotiations based on goodwill. If the negotiations had been based on distrust, disappointments and divisiveness amongst the people, then the negotiations, debates and deliberations would not have led to today. So today’s resolution is testament to the fact that this process was all along based on goodwill and benevolence,” he said

According to a press release AMISOM Public Information Services sent to WIC, the importance of such processes to preparations for the 2016 national elections was also emphasized.
“It is absolutely key that interim regional administrations be set up by the end of the year if we want to bring the country to election in 2016, hence the importance of this agreement,” said Philippe Lazzarini, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia.

For the leaders of the South West regions, reaching such an agreement without shedding blood was a historic milestone.
“We have formed this administration and from day 1, we have been calling on the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community to accept and recognize this administration and finally we have reached that agreement today. We have reached an interim agreement with the United Nations, with the Somali government and as well as supported by the whole international community as we have seen today. Today is a historic day and I am really happy to be part of this historic day and it will be written again and again the day we started negotiations peacefully without shedding blood,” said Mohamed Haji Abdinur, SW3 Representative.

The SW6 Representative Abdifatah Mohamed added that the signing of the agreement today, would allow for peace to prevail in the region.

“The reason why both sides agreed to come to a compromise today is so that our people who are suffering can get a reprieve from their plight. We have also resolved to work on something concrete that is supported by the Federal Government and have an administration that is supported by the international community. We also expect that our people’s rights in the Interim Jubba Administration, which has already been recognized by the government and the international community will also be met,” said.

Efforts towards establishing a federal state in South West Somalia turned violent early this year, as leaders disagreed on whether it should comprise 6 or 3 regions.The SW3 Group advocated for a federal state comprised of the Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle regions while the SW6 Group backed one comprising six regions; that is Bay, Bakol, Lower Shabelle, Gedo, Lower Juba and Middle Juba.

AMISOM forces havesupported the government and reconciliation efforts of the warring factions.

Under the Somali Compact, the Federal Government is charged with initiating dialogue with regional administrations, facilitating reconciliation efforts among warring factions and supporting the establishment of effective federal states.  Such processes saw the Interim Administration of Juba established in August last year and are expected to bear fruit in the Somali South West Regions as well.