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Civil Society backs Roadmap for Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia, November 28, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A three day consultative meeting of civil society representatives has concluded in Mogadishu with the plenary expressing full support for the Roadmap on ending the transition which charts the major tasks which need to take place over the next nine months in Somalia. The Civil Society Consultative Meeting on Ending the Transition, which met from 26 – 28 November, involved 60 representatives of religious leaders, clan elders, the business community, the Diaspora, youth and women's groups. The meeting, facilitated by the UN Political Office for Somalia, brought these groups together with representatives of the Transitional Federal Institutions, Puntland and Galmudug administrations and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a (ASWJ).

“I am very optimistic that your presence here is a major landmark and milestone. Civil society is the bridge between political differences. The power is in your hands - help us,” the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga said during the conference opening, which he co-chaired with the Somali Deputy Prime Minister, Arab Issa.

The civil society organisations fully endorsed the Roadmap and called for a principle role in its implementation. They agreed to set up a civil society umbrella organisation to work with the Transitional Federal Institutions, Regional Administrations and ASWJ.

During the meeting, the participants divided into four working groups corresponding to the four pillars of the Roadmap – security, constitution, outreach and reconciliation and good governance. Each group put forward a series of recommendations which were outlined in the closing ceremony.

The recommendations included increasing financial support to implement security programmes, respecting the timeframe set for the Roadmap's completion, establishing a Constituent Assembly to provisionally endorse the Constitution, supporting the current efforts to reform Parliament, establishing Reconciliation Committees, convening reconciliation conferences and enacting anti-corruption legislation.

“The political strategy is inclusiveness and everybody in Somalia must participate,” Dr. Mahiga told the closing ceremony which was attended by the Somali President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Representatives from the international community including the African Union, the European Union, IGAD, the League of Arab States, Djibouti, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States were also present at the closing.

The Roadmap, which was agreed at a High Level Conference in Mogadishu from 4 - 6 September, charts a course to the end of the transitional period in August 2012, providing political direction and promoting inclusivity and stability. It focuses on four pillars and includes benchmarks, delineation of responsibilities and compliance mechanisms.