Attempts to impeach President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud posed a threat to the planned 2016 polls, the UK ambassador to Somalia Harriet Mathews has said.
Speaking during a media conference in Mogadishu Monday, Mathews also said the British government did not object to the impeachment as a constitutional right and duty to hold the president accountable bestowed upon the Somali parliament.
“The UK has been very clear about our position on the impeachment of the president. It’s actually the right of parliament to hold the president to account and it’s our view that the government needed to answer some of the allegations and respond in a constructive way,” said Mathews.
But the timing posed a major challenge for Somalia in its efforts to realise its 2016 vision which sets the roadmap for the end of the current regime through an election slated for August 2016, the UK envoy said.
“However what we are very clear on is that the elections happening in 2016 were a priority and there was a real threat that an impeachment motion especially so close to a planned election date was really going to end up delaying the election and actually not providing an additional help in terms of holding the government to account,” observed Mathews.
Federal Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawaari terminated the motion two weeks by at least 100 MPs citing failure to meet minimum legal threshold.
The UK ambassador also noted that her country was working closely with the international community to ensure an inclusive and transparent elections in 2016 noting that she was pleased the government of Somalia had committed to hold the polls in 206. She also emphasised the importance of concluding the federalisation process in Somalia ahead of the 2016 polls. “On the political front, there is a really important federal agenda where the federal map needs to be completed over the next few months, so there is a big timetable and lots of challenges there as well,” said Mathews.
Meanwhile the UK is working on the process of deploying up to 70 British troops to Somalia to bolster the fight against the militant group Al-Shabaab and support in building a framework for the future of Somali National Army, SNA.
Mathews said her country is in talks with the UN Support Mission for AMISOM, UNSOA to zero in on specific areas of support noting that the troops will not work directly with the African Union backed force AMISOM but will instead collaborate with UNSOA to support the peace keeping troops and SNA.
She said Britain was particularly keen on the stability and peace of Somalia ahead of the 2016 polls. The troops will provide logistical support, training and medical help but will not take up any combat role.
“Next year is going to be challenging for Somalia but the UK is here to help and the announcement by Prime Minister Cameron that he would be sending 70 British to help in that effort is just another affirmation we have for Somalia,” said Mathews.
Regarding Britain’s development agenda for Somalia, Mathews said UK funding in Somalia has facilitated the creation of about 30,000 jobs for Somalia in the last three years with a view to creating another 9,000. “The UK is the lead donor in health. UK funded support has helped over a third of support get support in the health sector,” said Mathews adding that up to 25,000 Somali children have been immunized as a result of UK funds.
She added that the UK had set aside £15 million to mitigate the effects of the upcoming El Nino rains which are expected from this month to the end of the year. “The funds will be used to pay for people to build up river banks, sanitation and ensure food supplies ahead of time,” said Mathews.