Press Releases

                                                                                                                            9 July 2004

     “Somalia Cannot Afford another False Start”, Says Secretary-General, Urging Kenya Conference to Establish Inclusive Governance Structures by 31 July

    NEW YORK, 8 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference in Mbagathi, Kenya, 8 July:

    It gives me great pleasure to join you in Mbagathi today.  I am spending only a short time in Kenya, but I wanted to come here to demonstrate the full support of the United Nations for the historic effort you are making to bring lasting peace to Somalia.

    Let me begin by commending all of you for taking on this tremendous challenge.

    I would also like to express appreciation to the many governments and organizations that have been supporting this peace process, either financially or diplomatically, with generosity and unwavering resolve.

    In this regard I must single out the Government of Kenya.  President Kibaki and his predecessor, President Moi have played a vital role in starting and sustaining this arduous process, under the auspices of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development.  Former Foreign Minister Musyoka has been most helpful, as has Kenya’s Special Envoy, Ambassador Kiplagat.

    I am also very grateful for the support given by the subregion’s leadership, especially President Museveni, the current Chairman of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the IGAD Foreign Ministers.

    As you know, my own relationship with Somalia goes back a long way, to the period in the early 1990s when UNITAF and UNOSOM I and II successfully curbed famine and then tried to assist in the peace process.  Events took a deeply regrettable course, and your country has known little peace and stability since.

    After the withdrawal of UNOSOM II, and with Somalia still convulsed in turmoil, my predecessor rightly declared that the United Nations would not abandon the Somali people.  And indeed, through the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, headed by my Representative, Winston Tubman, we have been assisting all efforts to resolve differences and to put in place the all-inclusive governance structures that are so urgently needed.

    Occasional upsurges of violence continue to claim lives and violate the Declaration of the Cessation of Hostilities, signed at Eldoret in October 2002.  Nonetheless, I am heartened by the progress you have made at this conference, especially in recent weeks.

    This time, all of us must get it right.

    The African Union, the League of Arab States, the European Union and the United Nations are all supporting your efforts.  But ultimately, it is up to the people of Somalia, and in particular its leaders, who must exhibit a profound sense of responsibility and statesmanship.  It is you who must make the compromises that will lead to a government with credibility throughout Somalia.  The burden of finding a peaceful solution to this needlessly prolonged conflict falls primarily on Somali shoulders.

    Of course, experience has shown that genuine collaboration by all of Somalia’s neighbours is an indispensable ingredient for success.  In this respect, I am encouraged by the declaration of the IGAD Ministers last month here in Nairobi that they will henceforth work as a team on the Somali peace process.

    I urge you to do everything in your power to achieve the goal set by IGAD Ministers for this conference:  to establish an inclusive governance structure by 31 July.  At this important juncture, I also call on the international community to provide prompt support so that Somalia’s new governmental structure will receive the crucial support it needs in its early days.  Somalia cannot afford another false start.

    As you work for a political agreement, I urge you to keep in mind that progress in the political arena must be accompanied by serious efforts to improve the security situation on the ground.  This would be conducive to the implementation of a political agreement.  It would also bring credibility to the political agreement itself, which would be critical for it to receive the full support of the Somali people and the international community.

    Your people are looking to you with high expectations that you will end their suffering.  The region and wider world are also watching carefully.  We have all waited far too long to see the conflict in Somalia cease once and for all.  Surely, what still divides you at this point cannot be more important than the over-arching need to set your country on a new and more constructive course.  I appeal to you to rise above your differences, and do all you can to bring your people an era of security, peace and hope.

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