With a population of over 10 million people and a GDP of roughly $5.7 billion, Somalia is on a fast path to recovery. Prior
to the civil war which stretched over a period of 15 years, Somalia was a business hub where thousands would gather from far and near to trade. In 2004, Somalia adopted a Transitional Federal Government to put structures in place with Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the president, and in September 16, 2012, Hassan Sheikh Mohamed was elected the Head of State in Somalia. The deputy Foreign Minister of Somalia, Ahmed Ali Mohammed, who stood in for President Mohamed, spoke with Montage Africa on the sideline.
MA: Somalia is a country that has suffered several years of civil war, rebel attacks, famine, and extreme poverty. How is the journey to recovery at the moment, and what strategies does your government have in place to restore Somalia?
Ahmed: When our government came into power, we started by developing a constitution for the Federal Republic of Somalia to put things into place and create a systematic society. We set up states, built financial institutions and are still working on structures to make Somalia a functional economy. Our mandate is to ensure a peaceful Somalia, and thus, we have partnered with several African countries to build a powerful army to protect our land from the destructive rebel group, Al-Shabaab, and restore the nation.
We are currently working very hard to improve our foreign policy and international relations. So far, several countries have re- opened their embassies in Mogadishu including the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Nigeria and many more, even though some of the embassiesaremoreorlessvirtualoffices, with the physical office operating out of Kenya, we are working hard to ensure peace is fully restored across Somalia and a fully functional nation is in place.
MA: Election is due next year. What plans does your government have in place to ensure that the process is free, fair and credible and that Somalia retains this peace it currently has? Is there something you are taking from Nigeria?
Ahmed: Come 2016, we are pushing for the “one man one vote” mandate, where every living Somali will have the right to vote for a candidate of his or her choice unadulterated. We have been communicating with locals on the elections and are putting structures in place to ensure a smooth, peaceful and democratic election next year.
MA: Are there any lessons and advice that you think the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari can learn from Somali’s history, especially in the tackling
of rebel groups? Ahmed: The people of Somali congratulate
President Muhammadu Buhari for his victory and wish him all the best as he assumes office. However, regarding the Boko Haram group and other rebel groups, the best approach is to work with the community, an approach that is also known as “Community policing”. From the local sheiks, to the Imams, teachers, students and all the locals, the Nigerian government should have regular dialogues with its citizens and they should come to a consensus to fight Boko Haram together.
MA: How do you feel about Kenyan troupes on Somali soil?
Ahmed: Just like Nigeria and some parts of West Africa are tackling Boko Haram, for years, Somalia has fought several rebel groups, especially the Al-Shabaab who have now ventured into other countries and are destroying our bilateral relationships. We are extremely grateful to the Kenyans for their support in tackling this menace. For years, Kenya has been one of the only countries supporting our refugees, giving their own blood for our country, and they have generally sacrificed so much for a better Somalia. We are extremely grateful.