Somalia Conference Kicks Off In London

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Somali conference

Fifty countries and organisations are gathered in London for an international conference aimed at preventing Somalia from slipping back into abject lawlessness.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud are co-hosting Tuesday’s meeting, which hopes to bolster political stability in the conflict-battered Horn of Africa country.

Britain has pledged $15m (N2.3bn) to help train Somali security forces and judges.

“The Somalia conference in London aims to capitalise on the significant progress made over the past year and to agree coordinated international support for the government of Somalia’s plans to build political stability by improving security, police, justice and public financial management systems,” Britain’s Foreign Office said.

Cameron said despite the progress made by the Somali government since then, big challenges remained.

“Tragic and despicable” recent attacks on Mogadishu are a reminder of “how much work we still have to do,” he said.

“The message at the second London summit will be clear: We will not allow Somalia to fall back. The Somali people are seizing the opportunity to forge a new future and we will support them every step of the way.

“Together I hope we can all get behind a long-term security plan that helps Somalia build up its army, its police and its judiciary; one that ends the Shabab’s reign of terror forever.

“I hope we can work towards getting Somalia the vital finance it needs to deal with its debts.

“I also hope we can improve transparency and accountability so people know where resources are going.

“We also need to continue the process of rebuilding the Somali state in an inclusive way.”

Organisations such as the United Nations, the African Union, the International Monetary Fund and Somalia’s neighbours are among those invited.

Somalia has been battered by conflict since 1991, but a new United Nations-backed government took power in September, ending more than a decade of transitional rule.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabbab armed group was driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011 by a regional military offensive, but have carried out a series of attacks in recent months.

The conference follows on from ones held in London in February 2012 and Istanbul four months later.

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