British ambassador to Somalia Ben Fender has raised concern over shrinking political space in the country and incessant tussles between the Federal Government and regional government noting progress cannot be realized unless such issues are addressed.
Speaking during the Somalia Partnership Forum which concluded Wednesday, ambassador Fender said journalists were facing arrests and political parties denied space to operate in the country.
“We need to acknowledge that in some parts of the country, it’s not possible to open a political party office and in some parts of the country journalists are getting arrested and that is not what we came here to do,” said Fender.
Though he did not make reference to any of the states, it was clear Fender was referring to South West state which announced late last month a ban on opening of political party offices in Baidoa. A journalist and civil society members were also arrested for covering a press conference by civil society groups in the same state.
Fender also took a swipe at the Federal Government and Federal Member State presidents for failing to settle their differences noting there was need for ‘real leadership’. The squabbling, Fender said, was hindering efforts at addressing a wide range of issues.
“There is still no dialogue and consensus-building between the Federal Government and Federal Member States presidents that would be necessary to address a wide range of issues and the fault of that lies on many sides but it also lies on the Federal Government.”
“Real leadership,” the UK diplomat said “Will have to be shown at all sides at a political level to overcome these struggles.”
Fender said 2020 was going to be ‘hard on inclusive politics’ but called for unity of purpose noting ‘we have invested far too long, far too much to fail’.