The United Nations Special Envoy to Somalia, Mr. Ahmedou Ould- Abdallah, has expressed his optimism that UN-backed peace talks between the Somali interim government and its opposition would succeed despite initial setbacks.
In an exclusive interview with Garowe Online from his Nairobi office, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General said that the peace talks will succeed due to the good will and support it was receiving from the Somali community in the Diaspora.
“The UN Security Council has shown commitment and the Somali people have communicated who are very patriotic and would wish to see Somalia prosper again,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.
Asked about the framework he has for the conclusion of the ongoing peace talks, he said that it would not be easy to give a framework as bringing peace would take some time. He further stressed that it would be unrealistic to expect Somalia to recover overnight.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah suggested that the conclusion of the peace talks would only come about if the Somali people forgive each other and focus on the reconstruction of their war-ravaged homeland.
“I believe once the Somali people forgive each other, it would give them the opportunity to move forward. I want them to concentrate on the political and economic reconstruction of Somalia,” said the UN envoy.
He strongly stated that he is against any violation of human rights when asked about allegations of atrocities committed by Ethiopian troops in Somalia.
“I am against any violations against human rights and those not respecting international laws against the violation of human rights should be sanctioned,” he stressed.
Asked about the recent statements by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys that he would spearhead the expulsion of Ethiopian troops from Somalia and form an Islamic state, the UN Special Representative said that many Somalis are committed to a peaceful process and he would not answer to what he termed as personal statements and internal wars.
“Let us respect the integrity of Somalia and its people but I cannot comment on personal and internal wars and opinions,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah.
He dismissed allegations by South Africa’s UN envoy that neighboring countries were arming militias in Somalia.
“Many people are looking at Somalia from the past and not present. Some people are simply moving us from the agenda. At the moment my priority is peace in Somalia but not what people say,” he added.
The envoy said that people should remember that war is normally easier to get than peace.
“Many people have interest in Somalia for selfish reasons. On allegations of people acquiring arms, it is not my problem because anybody can get arms but what is important is peace,” he reiterated.
He further accused the international media of distorting facts and information from Somalia to further the agenda of those who do not want to see peace return to the Horn of Africa country mired in 18 years of anarchy.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah called on the media to cease from reporting issues that would be controversial.
The envoy thanked young Somalis for showing considerable positive interest in their country.
“Young Somalis are sending us emails saying they are very happy with the efforts we are making to bring peace,” Mr. Abdallah said