U.S Ambassador Stephen Schwartz On Somalia’s Independence Day
July 1 marks the 57th anniversary of the creation of the Somali Republic and is an important date in Somali history. On behalf of the United States Mission to Somalia, I wish Somalis everywhere the most joyous of holidays. Since my arrival almost one year ago as the first United States Ambassador to Somalia in 25 years I have witnessed the incredible gains made by the Somali people in rebuilding their country. But these gains are threatened by another famine, vicious attacks against the Somali people by Al-Shabaab, limited government revenue, a weak justice sector, and other ways.
The United States believes that the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre is serious about bringing peace, reconciliation, and jobs to the Somali people. We – and many in the international community – are working closely with the federal government and the existing and emerging regional administrations to bring about immediate improvements in the lives of the Somali people. Working together we have prevented the outbreak of famine despite a devastating drought, agreed on a new National Security Architecture to reform and strengthen Somalia’s security institutions, and launched a campaign to demilitarize and secure the city of Mogadishu.
While short term gains are important, real and lasting progress for the people of Somalia will take a sustained and serious effort over many years and will require support from all Somalis and Somalia’s international partners. Progress should not be undermined by citizens and groups that profit from dysfunction and criminality, and who are afraid of the rule of law and accountability.
To succeed, Somalia’s government – executive and legislative – needs to put aside the threat off political crisis and focus on making real progress against its major priority areas including:
• defeating terrorism and rebuilding Somali security agencies,
• generating internal revenue and implement revenue and resource sharing with Federal Member States,
• completing and ratifying a new constitution
• preparing for one person one vote
• advancing reconciliation including dialogue with Somaliland
• strengthening the economy, create jobs, and fight corruption
• passing key legislations including on telecommunications, anti-corruption, and education among others.
The tasks ahead are enormous but achievable. It is clear that all of Somalia’s problems which have developed over 30 years will not be solved in one year or even in four years, but the foundation for success can and must be established before 2021. This requires a degree of patience as we all work for the long term interests of Somalia. It also requires that the Somali people remain vigilant and hold their government and parliament accountable so they look after the public’s interest.
The United States is proud of its strong and growing relations with Somalia and is committed to working with all Somalis who want to build a democratic, peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous nation.
By Stephen Schwartz
United States Ambassador to Somalia