UN envoy lauds courageous decision of Somali President to step down

“It is my understanding that this is the first time in Somalia’s modern history that a President has decided to leave office peacefully,” stated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. “It is a patriotic and courageous decision.”The President formally announced his resignation, effective today, in a statement before the Parliament and cabinet members present in Baidoa. “Indeed President Yusuf has taken his courageous decision on his own and in total independence. I have no doubt that members of his family, his friends and allies support this decision,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said. Stressing that “a new page of Somali history is now open,” the Special Representative called on the Somali people to support the President in these “historic” times and urged unity and solidarity. He added that now is the time for Somalia’s friends to help the country “and for the spoilers to stop their destructive behaviour.”The upsurge in fighting this year in Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government since 1991, has led to massive humanitarian suffering and widespread displacement. The violence continues despite the signing in June of a UN-facilitated peace accord, known as the Djibouti Agreement, by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), by which both sides agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled nation.While noting the progress made in the Djibouti peace process, Mr. Ban has stated in recent weeks that conditions are not yet right for a UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia.Instead, he recommends strengthening – through financing, logistical support, necessary training, equipment and other reinforcements facilitated by the UN and Member States – the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Noting the recent decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council to extend the mission for a further two months, Mr. Ban today reiterated his call on Member States to provide financial and logistical support to existing AMISOM troops, and for the deployment of additional contingents.In a statement issued by his spokesperson he commended “the dedication and courage shown by AMISOM personnel in providing security and humanitarian relief in Somalia, despite the numerous challenges,” and said he was encouraged by the readiness Uganda and Burundi to contribute one additional battalion each, and the pledge by Nigeria to deploy a battalion. He called on all parties that have not yet done so to join the Djibouti peace process. 29 December 2008The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today called for unity and solidarity among all the people of the strife-torn nation in the wake of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s resignation from office, which he called a “patriotic and courageous” decision. read more