Last month, a Somali man who had lived in Denmark dressed himself in women’s clothes, positioned himself at a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu and then blew himself up. He killed 22 people, including three government ministers and many young medical graduates and professors, who had hoped to dedicate their lives to the alleviation of suffering in Somalia.
The terrible events of Dec. 3 reverberated around the world. Somali doctors, information technology and engineering graduates, alongside their families, began the morning full of hope and pride, yet many were not to see the sun set that day. They were among the brightest and the best of Somalia, and so were the ministers who lost their lives.
But as the recent events in Aarhus, Denmark, Mogadishu and over the skies of Detroit on Dec. 25 show, the current situation in Somalia and across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen not only threatens the lives of Somalis, but also people beyond its borders.
However, Somalia is not the ultimate failed state of popular perception. Its people are resilient and manage to survive in conditions that are probably well beyond the imagination of most readers. In Mogadishu, a city of two million, people carry on, despite the fighting, the shelling, the displacement. Over 100 Somali-led reconciliation processes have taken place at local and regional levels since 1991 — and they’ve proved the basis for stability in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug state in central Somalia.
While Somali reconciliation and mediation efforts will be the key to sustainable peace and stability, the international community — including the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations — has an important role to play. Somalia and Yemen must be properly on the agenda at the London conference at the end of this month.
As 2010 unfolds, our collective vision should be to see the beginnings of a secure, stable and prosperous Somalia, at peace with itself and its neighbors, where its citizens can go about their lives in safety and provide for their families with confidence and dignity. Let us strive for a resurgent, tolerant society, built on respect for traditional Somali cultural and religious values.
The Transitional Federal Government, as its name suggests, is a temporary structure for developing the environment necessary to achieve this objective. It is a transitional mechanism that will enable the people to decide for themselves how they want to be governed, free from outside interference and coercion.
The transitional government’s principle purpose is to prepare the way for the establishment of legitimate and accountable public institutions. (We have already taken the initiative and hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to ensure the accountability of international donor funds.) These institutions will form the basis of a stable, representative government that can begin to alleviate the trauma of the last 20 years.
We will achieve this by building professional, representative security forces; creating transparent and accountable public institutions based on the principles of civic responsibility and good governance; developing a fair and impartial judicial system; and increasing economic opportunity through investment, training, health and education.
Given the complex and extremely difficult circumstances that recent events have so graphically illustrated, achieving all this will be an extraordinary challenge. It will require the combined effort of the whole Somali people, as well as assistance from outside. Only in partnership with all Somalis and the support of the international community will success be possible. It will take time, determination and patience but it can be done. Let us all take up this challenge. Let 2010 be the start of something new.