I thank President Said Abdullahi Deni and his team for the warm welcome that we have received today. Visits to Garowe are always a pleasure.

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Today’s consultation with President Deni comes at a moment of historical significance for Somalia, as Somalia moves towards national elections after a period of raised political tensions. Now more than ever strong and principled leadership is needed to deliver the elections, starting with those of the Upper House, for which the Somali people have waited so long.

This visit follows the meetings of the National Consultative Council, held in May and June, which have helped to resolve concerns and differences in the delivery of elections. The United Nations commends and welcomes the constructive manner in which Somalia’s political leaders, including President Deni, have engaged to seek consensus-based solutions.

The June meeting of the NCC provided an electoral timetable, which will see parliamentary and presidential elections delivered in 2021. We urge all parties to sustain their efforts to ensure that there are no further delays to this agreed-upon schedule.

Some issues remain to be clarified. In particular, President Deni and I discussed the obligation to deliver on the commitment made to ensure not less than 30 per cent women’s representation in electoral processes and outcomes. Commitment to a concrete plan to achieve this target is of vital importance in demonstrating the credibility of the electoral process and in building confidence with Somalia’s international partners. I have also urged for an equitable representation in both houses of parliament for minorities, marginalized communities and young women and men, which is vital to deliver an inclusive election.

As elections proceed, continued cooperation among Somalia’s political leaders remains necessary. The NCC format, in particular, gives confidence to the Somali people and Somalia’s international partners that the Federal Government and Federal Member States are willing and able to work together in the national interest, and that political disputes will be resolved through dialogue. As the oldest of Somalia’s Federal Member States, Puntland has much to contribute in forging this cooperation.

Mr. President, at the conclusion of this visit, I once again thank you for your warm hospitality. The United Nations looks forward to continuing the excellent cooperation with you and your team in Puntland.

Thank you, Mr. President.