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Somalia: UK to help build democratic government

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain will help Somalia to establish a new government and federal parliament, as well as providing aid to help fight the food crisis

Development Secretary Justine Greening today pledged to support Somali parliamentarians as they establish their new government and federal parliament, following a meeting in London with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia.

In a new joint programme with Norway, the UK and Norwegian parliaments will host Somali parliamentarians as they receive advice and training from parliamentary and constitutional experts.

The programme will also help young Somali graduates take part in internships to the new House of the People, giving valuable experience and training to a new generation of public servants helping to establish peace and democracy in Somalia.

Speaking after the meeting, Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

It’s vital that we make the most of the close links between our two countries as Somalia rebuilds its democracy. After last September’s elections, the most representative process in decades, Somalia now has a real chance to make progress towards stability and peace after 21 years of conflict.

UK support will also provide food and support to tens of thousands of Somalis as they cope with a food crisis caused by drought and years of instability.

In Somalia there are more than 2 million people still at risk of hunger following the recent famine.

Britain also pledged to provide an urgent supply of nutritional food to help families to escape the threat of hunger. Working with the World Food Programme, the UK will provide ready to use food enriched with vitamins and minerals to help 59,300 malnourished children and mothers.

Somalia was the only country in the region where the bad droughts turned into famine, largely because of conflict and instability. In addition to our new humanitarian food supplies, the formation of the new government presents a real opportunity to stabilise the country, improve its security and reduce the risk that humanitarian disasters such as drought turn into a full famine.

Announced ahead of a major international conference on Somalia later this year, the support to the federal parliament will help develop a strong, credible and legitimate democratic forum where national issues, laws and policies can be debated in a peaceful, accountable and transparent manner.

Working with the United Nations Development Programme and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Britain will help to:

  • Establish an admin support programme using talented Somali graduates. The internships will contribute to the administration of the House of the People and help create experienced public servants of the future.
  • Organise training visits for Somali MPs to meet staff and MPs from the UK’s House of Commons and the Norwegian Parliament. The training will focus on how a democratically elected legislatures and minority governments operate.
  • Help implement their new parliamentary Rules of Procedure by providing international mentors and advisors to work with parliamentarians.
  • Set up pilot constituency offices in three regions to help Somalis to meet their representatives and hold them to account.
  • Provide a parliamentary and legal expert to help the Somali Speaker revise the Constitution.

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have agreed to co-host an international conference on Somalia in the UK on 7 May 2013. The conference will provide international support for the Government of Somalia’s priorities as they rebuild their country after two decades of conflict.