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Somalia warned over transition deadline

2012-05-16 14:01

New York – The UN powers on Tuesday expressed concern that Somalia's transitional administration is behind on a timetable to set up a permanent government by August.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany all warned Somalia's president at a Security Council meeting that international support was conditional on reaching key political targets.

With Somali and African forces claiming decisive victories over Islamic rebels, the United Nations has already extended the mandate for the transitional government for one year to 20 August. Western nations say the date cannot be extended again.

The Security Council said in a statement that with time running out the political process is now at a "critical phase".

Council members praised progress made so far, but "expressed concern that some deadlines for the completion of tasks had already been missed".

The council called on President Sharif Shekh Ahmed and his government to "redouble" efforts to set up a constituent assembly and adopt a constitution by August.

They said the rival Somali parties and factions must overcome their divisions to set up the new government.

Somali forces and a 10 000-strong African Union force, Amisom, have made significant gains in recent months against Shabaab militants. But the Islamic rebels are still able to carry out deadly attacks in Mogadishu.

Major challenge

US ambassador Susan Rice said the government faces a major challenge being ready on time for the transition.

"Any delay or backsliding in implementing the transition is totally unacceptable," she told the council. "Somalia and the wider region cannot afford to revert to the endless cycles of violence and suffering that have plagued the country and threatened the region for decades."

"On the political front, we are worried," added France's UN envoy Gerard Araud, who added that all of the political deadlines were several weeks behind.

Britain has been a major backer of international efforts to stabilise Somalia, organizing an international conference in February.

The international community must support political efforts "providing incentives to progress and being prepared to take action against any who seek to block or undermine the process", said Britain's deputy UN ambassador Philip Parham.

Augustine Mahiga, the UN special representative on Somalia, and the Somali president said the transitional government needs more money to carry out its work.

The European Union and United States are the main international backers of the government. Both have urged other countries to give more. The EU gives $200m a year to pay for the salaries of Amisom troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.