Tough questions ahead for Somali president in London

European Parliament President Martin Schulz (standing) with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud during the latter's visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by: © European Union 2013 - European Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrived in London today as part of a European tour meant to drum up support for the conflict-ridden African nation.

On his last stop, in Brussels, European Union leaders pledged to hold a donor conference, with the goal of sealing what they called a “new deal” of delivering political, security and development aid to Somalia. London will host another international conference on Somalia this May to “help sustain international support for the progress made by the Somali government,” a spokeswoman for the Cameron government announced in January.

Meanwhile, in Somalia, a woman who claimed she was raped by state security forces, as well as her husband and a journalist who interviewed her, are set to go on trial for “insulting the dignity of a national institution” a case that is sure to raise the ire of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.

At the EU conference later this year, Brussels wants to finalize a compact between Somalia and the international community that will guide Somali reconstruction, according to EU documents. This compact will be based on principles of an agreement reached at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness for engaging in fragile states.

The EU plans to:

  • Support the government’s efforts to promote democracy, the rule of law and respect of human rights.

  • Help provide basic services and strengthen public finance management.

  • Support the country’s re-engagement with international financial institutions.

  • Help build resilience.

  • Continue providing humanitarian assistance, “in full respect of the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality and independence.”

Mohamud visit in Brussels is part of a campaign to return his country to international fold after two decades of conflict. A formal recognition by the United States two weeks ago and recent remarks from the United Nations on its “profound transformation” have strengthened the African nation’s cause.

Speaking to the media on Jan. 30 following a meeting with the Somali leader, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the regional bloc and Somalia had agreed to strengthen their cooperation, adding that the EU believes “there is a real commitment to go forward.” Mohamud likened the situation in Somalia to that of Europe in 1945, making a case for a Marshall Plan for his country.

 “Everything is zero, everything has to be started from scratch,” he said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse. “And we cannot do it alone.”

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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