NEW YORK, JANUARY 27 – Italy condemned on Friday the coordinated suicide bombing attack of January 25 at a hotel in Mogadishu for which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility and which reportedly killed dozens of people. The bombing of a well known facility located near the Presidential palace and frequently visited by lawmakers in the capital, showed frustration on behalf of Al-Shabaab who has not been able to derail the electoral process in Somalia, Italy remarked during a UN Security Council meeting convened by the Swedish rotating presidency, while at the same time expressing satisfaction for the conclusion of such process and the remarkable rate of women’s representation achieved in in the Parliament.
Italy expressed satisfaction also for the positive outcome of the federalization process, both significative results in view of the challenges posed by terrorism. The council was briefed by the Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, who noted that the meeting was coming at an auspicious time following an extended and exhaustive parliamentary electoral process and just 12 days before the Presidential election. Keating noted that the new parliament is younger and more diverse, and called it the most legitimate and representative since 1969. The electoral process will not be completed without the election of the new president. Mr. Keating said that an immediate priority was to ensure that the presidential vote took place on the agreed date, despite Al Shabab’s attempts to discredit and disrupt the election process, including carrying out a number of terrorist attacks this past week that left dozens dead.
“The election of a President accepted as legitimate by the population and by the international community will set the stage for Somalia to tackle the serious challenges ahead.”, Keating said. However, he added: “If voting […] is seen as compromised by corruption, coercion or external interference, then the country could face a protracted period of uncertainty.”
Keating expressed also deep concern for the drought: famine is looming and has security and political implications, an issue that the Special Representative raised in his bilateral meeting with the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. A perceived inability of the federal and local governments to respond will damage their legitimacy – something that will be exploited by Al-Shabaab. “In a nutshell, failure to support the drought response could halt and even undermine the pursuit of key state-building and peace-building objectives,” he cautioned.
The Somalia Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Ambassador Francisco Madeira of Mozambique, and a well known Somali activist, Asha Gelle Dirie, Founder and Executive Director of the Asha Gelle Foundation and Chairperson of the Committee of Goodwill Ambassadors, addressed the Council as well: Asha was only the third civil society voice to address a country-specific meeting in the Council.
The Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi stressed the importance that the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and member States to keep supporting the process of stabilization of Somalia. Cardi reprised concern on the humanitarian front on account of the drought and announced a new package of assistance from Italy. (@alebal)