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UN envoy urges Somalia’s new leaders to tackle urgent issues

AP – The United Nations (UN) envoy for Somalia urged the country on Monday to build on last week’s election of a new president and work on national reconciliation, improve relations between the central government and states, and confront the growing threat from the al-Shabab extremist group.

James Swan called last week’s conclusion of Somalia’s “unduly protracted and contentious” electoral process “a major milestone for the country”, and told the UN Security Council it is past time for leaders to address those and other pressing issues. The envoy said he met with Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, three days after his May 15 election to hear about his goals.

They include finishing a constitutional review and judicial reforms, completing electoral laws, ensuring compliance with conditions for debt relief, and giving urgent attention to the “dire drought”, he said.

Calling this “a moment of opportunity”, Swan said the entire UN system in Somalia is ready to work with the new government to support these goals.

The election of Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president in 2012-2017, ended a long-delayed electoral process.

Political tensions and insecurity concerns had increased after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s mandate expired in February 2021 without a successor in place.

President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud receives a ceremonial sword from former leader Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during an official handover ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia. PHOTO: AP