Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Baidoa, Southwest State

2 May 2024

Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Baidoa, Southwest State

As delivered

Good morning. 

It's such a great pleasure to be back here in Baidoa, and I want to say a huge thank you to Mr. President and his team for welcoming me here today. Sadly, this is also my farewell call as I depart Somalia fairly soon. 

The focus of our discussion today was in two main parts. The first was around the state-building process, the issues around the Constitution, the role of the NCC [National Consultative Council] and elections, and the President assured me of his commitment to an inclusive dialogue, including work he'll be doing to try and encourage President Deni from Puntland to return to the NCC to ensure his voice is heard as they debate and reflect on the agreement around the first four chapters of the Constitution and, of course, prepare for the debate that will take place on the remaining chapters. 

Secondly, we talked about the elections, and I commended the President for the work already done to formulate district councils here, and, in particular, the fact that he has good female representation on six of his district councils so that is very good progress and to be showcased. 

Going ahead, we discussed the importance of ‘one person, one vote’ at district level – recognizing there's still work to be done to get the laws in place, to do voter registration and so on – but I think we both agreed that it is at the district level that democracy needs to embed in any society and that is therefore an important priority going forward.  

Thirdly, we talked about the fight against Al-Shabaab and the importance of the campaign continuing, followed on by stabilization to showcase the role of the state in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab. And then, linked to security, we talked about the ATMIS [African Union Transition Mission in Somalia] troop presence and how important they have been in providing an enabling security environment. 

And, as we transition into the new AU [African Union] mission, the importance of having adequate security, including through ENDF [Ethiopian National Defense Forces] forces, who've played a particularly important role.

And then finally, Baidoa is suffering from enormous humanitarian challenges, and we are both committed to trying to transition out of humanitarian crisis response into building resilience and development, including through Baidoa accessing climate finance that will be coming to Somalia – so the importance of Baidoa playing its role in that [was discussed]. 

Thank you very much again, Mr. President.