I would like to begin by thanking President Said Abdullahi Deni and his team for the warm welcome provided to the members of our visiting delegation today.
I am accompanied by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Francisco Madeira; the European Union Ambassador to Somalia, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann; and the Ambassador of Sweden to Somalia, Ambassador Per Lindgarde.
Today’s visit is the latest Somalia’s international partners have had with the country’s Federal Member State leaders, and it reflects our regular contact and cooperation as we collectively seek to support Somalia on its path to greater stability.
In our meeting with President Deni and his cabinet we discussed local and national issues, with a particular focus on the upcoming Puntland and Federal elections.
On the local elections, we were heartened to learn about the progress made so far, particularly that the work of the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) is advancing.
The first phase of the local elections – in Eyl, Ufeyn and Qardho – is just four weeks away, on 25 October.
We commend the TPEC, the government and people of Puntland for their steadfast determination to hold direct elections, as enshrined in Puntland’s Constitution.
If completed successfully, these direct local elections would be an important step in showing the feasibility of ‘one person, one vote’ elections in today’s Somalia.
On the matter of federal elections, we welcomed Puntland’s completion of the Upper House elections.
We also discussed the urgency of proceeding to the next stage of the federal elections, for the House of the People. We shared the international community’s concern about the risks that ongoing political disputes between national leaders may pose to the process.
President Deni and our delegation agreed that Somalia’s leaders must continue to work together, in a spirit of national unity, to overcome differences. We urge all to move forward to deliver on their commitments to hold credible national elections on time and in accordance with the 27 May Agreement.
One important theme that is common to both local, elections and national elections is that of women’s participation. It is vital that these processes respect the right of women to participate fully in all aspects of public life, and that the minimum quota of 30 per cent women’s representation is achieved in the House of the People elections.
Finally, we emphasized that during the electoral process, it is especially important to ensure political space for all – through freedom of expression, media access, freedom of organization and assembly – so that all voices may be heard and count.
President Deni – once again, we extend our thanks to you, and the government and people of Puntland for your warm welcome during our visit today.