Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Somalia this week to underline the UN’s support for general elections in the country later this year.
The UN political chief arrived in Mogadishu on 3 February and held talks with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari. Mr Feltman was accompanied by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Michael Keating.
Just before Mr. Feltman’s visit, and in a move welcomed by the Secretary-General, Somalia’s cabinet approved a new electoral model that had been the subject of lengthy discussions. Among other things, the electoral model reserves 30 per cent of the seats in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament for women candidates, a provision Mr. Feltman hailed during his visit.
The adoption of the electoral model was not universally accepted, however. Still, domestically and internationally it is considered a breakthrough.
“We recognize that it would have been ideal to have a consensual way forward,” Mr. Feltman said in Mogadishu. “But given the impasse that lasted over several weeks, the UN believes strongly that the decision made to proceed with the electoral model chosen is the courageous one and the right one.”
Mr. Keating also acknowledged that there is a lot of work to do to make the roadmap for the electoral process a success. But he added: “For us at the UN and for the international community, supporting Somali civil society and the Government is very important to remain on the international map.”