SRSG for Somalia moves to Mogadishu after 17 year absence
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Dr Augustine P. Mahiga today formally re-opened the UNPOS office in the Somali capital, Dr Mahiga, who flew into the international airport with a delegation from the UN Political Office for Somalia, said he was delighted with the move and was honoured to raise the flag after a 17 year absence.
Dr Mahiga said that being based in Mogadishu would help UNPOS work more closely with its partners including the Somali Government, UN agencies, civil society and ordinary Somalis. He praised the foreign diplomats based in Mogadishu and said he hoped that more embassies and UN agencies would be inspired to join them. He said that UNPOS should no longer stand for the Political Office for Somalia but should now be known as the Political Office in Somalia.
"I hope that the UNPOS move to Somalia will herald the beginning of a new era of cooperation and political engagement," said Dr Mahiga. "We have a lot of work to do. In the next few months, the Somalis will agree on a new constitution along with the reform of Parliament and other key tasks that form the basis of a Roadmap that we are helping the Government to implement."
The SRSG who was given an enthusiastic welcome by the Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and a large group including Somali officials, Mogadishu and Nairobi-based diplomats and the Deputy Force Commander of the African Union Peacekeepers.
The SRSG travelled to Villa Somalia, the seat of government, where he presented his credentials to President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in front of a large audience of Somali officials, diplomats and the media.
Afterwards he travelled back to the International Airport to review a Guard of Honour of the African Union troops and pay tribute to the sacrifices of both the AU and Somali Security Services in advancing the cause of peace.
The SRSG also spoke by phone to the UN Secretary-General to inform him of his arrival. It was the Secretary-General who announced, during his landmark visit to Mogadishu last month, that UNPOS would be relocating to Mogadishu.
The last SRSG to be based in Mogadishu, James Victor Gbeho of Ghana, who was with the UN Operations in Somalia II (UNISOM II) left in early 1995 and UNPOS which was based in Nairobi was established shortly afterwards. However staff from other UN agencies remained in Somalia throughout the following years and there are more than 900 UN employees in Somalia.
"I believe that this is a moment of great opportunity for Somalia," said the SRSG. We will do everything we can to help but ultimately peace in Somalia will be achieved by the Somalis themselves. I will miss Nairobi, but I am looking forward to setting up my new office in Mogadishu and getting down to work."