Somalia is at a “GOOD TURNING POINT,” Says UNDP Head Helen Clark

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The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Michael Keating, receives the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, upon her arrival at Aden Abdulle Airport in Mogadishu on 24 August 2016. UN Photo
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Michael Keating, receives the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, upon her arrival at Aden Abdulle Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia on August 24, 2016. UN Photo / Omar Abdisalan

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark today described the country as being “at a good turning point” during her visit to the Somali capital.

Clark spent the day in discussions with Somalia’s Federal President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and other senior leaders of his government about the 2016 electoral process, a proposed 30 percent quota for women’s representation in parliament and the upcoming launch of the country’s first national development plan in more than 25 years.

Ms. Clark was accompanied throughout her visit by the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Peter de Clercq. She was received at Mogadishu International Airport by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating, and other top UN officials.

Also on hand to receive her was the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Lydia Wanyoto.

The UNDP chief later met with members of civil society organisations, officials of the federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development, and UN personnel.

Clark said the purpose of her visit was to get a firsthand account of the situation in Somalia and verify that “we are doing as partners what we should be doing to support Somalia’s movement forward.”

The UNDP Administrator said she strongly backs the 30 percent quota for female representation in both houses of the country’s next federal parliament.

“UNDP is very involved in supporting the elections, and I’m very supportive of women in politics and leadership,” Clark noted.

“The elections are coming up, I feel some traction and some momentum so I go away with a positive message about what is being achieved.”

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud thanked Ms.Clark for the support the UN has given to the country. He told journalists he had briefed the visiting UNDP chief about socio-political developments in the country, the challenges facing Somalia and the positive role played by UNDP in helping to transform the country.

“We now have the first National Development Plan since the early Eighties. We are going to hold elections and the UNDP is playing a major role in all these activities,” President Hassan Sheikh said.

“Today politics in Somalia are discussed in places far away from Mogadishu. Every day we are increasing the number of citizens participating in the political processes. We feel we are getting closer to the final destination, which is a one person, one vote (election) in 2020,” he noted.

Representatives of Somali civil society organisations expressed concern that the 30 percent quota may not be achieved in the forthcoming electoral process. They included a group of goodwill ambassadors appointed by the President to advocate in favour of greater gender representation in the legislative branch of government.

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