In Somalia, Hope for Peace Grows

Bad news makes headlines, good news
less often. Somalia is a classic example.

The country is often portrayed as a
“failed state,” characterized by anarchy, famine, and fighting. Just last month,
a suicide bombing in Mogadishu claimed six lives and narrowly missed Somalia’s prime
minister. Bad news, big headline.

But I am that prime minister, and the
Somalia I know is moving forward, away from its tragically troubled past. Let
me share this good news: We are laying the foundation for a new Somalia that
will, once again, proudly assume its rightful place among the community of

The ground is already being cleared.
With the crucial support of the African Union Mission in Somalia, Al Shabab, a nihilistic terrorist group at the root of
so much suffering, is on the run. These hateful, tyrannical purveyors of
destruction were forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, almost a year ago. Already,
the city is returning to its vibrant former self. Homes are being rebuilt,
businesses are opening, and children are playing on the beach again.

Al Shabab is also increasingly
losing its hold on central and southern Somalia. The government has regained
large swaths of land in every part of the country.

Somalis are very proud
people. We have history. We have culture. Even after two decades of internecine
strife, these things remain. Al Shabab has lost the hearts and minds of the
Somali people because it ignores who they are and what they yearn for above all
else: peace. Al Shabab has no interest in peace – only the opposite. It has
nothing positive to offer.

And, as Al Shabab
retreats, the government is determined to fill the vacuum and offer the on-the-ground
security that people need in order to feel confident of a better future. They
also need proof of a government that works for them, which is why we are
working to create an institutional environment that functions efficiently, free
of corruption. Institution-building is of paramount importance.

Equally, we are working
to reconcile internal regional divisions and clan rivalries. If these
communities can establish their administrations then we can finally defeat Al

The bedrock of this new Somalia is a
constitution that, this August, will bring to a fruitful conclusion the work of
the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government. Framing a
constitution is a momentous task. It cannot be imposed. It has to be founded on
consensus. Thus, the process has been informed by inclusive consultation not
only with the people of Somalia, but also with input from people in the Somali
diaspora who look forward to returning to their homeland, and who will be
important in the country’s reconstruction.

This constitution will protect the
rights of individuals, the rights of minorities, and the rights of women. It will
be a constitution that is compliant with Somali law and Islamic religion, and
that protects civil liberties and political freedom.

The international community sees with
its own eyes the progress being made in Somalia. There has been progress in
security, in good governance, in reconciliation and bridge-building, in
establishing administration, and in ratifying a new constitution for the whole country.
The United Nations’ decision earlier this year to move its core staff in the Political
Office for Somalia to Mogadishu after 17 years in Nairobi is indicative of this
growing international confidence.

Nobody is pretending the transformation
of Somalia is going to come about overnight. Progress will be incremental, step
by step. But each step is one that moves Somalia forward to a brighter future.
And, after so many years of chaos and misery, this is truly good news.

Mohamed Ali is the Prime Minister of Somalia.


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