'To Curb Corruption You Have to Have the Proper Mechanisms'
* From February 22, 2012, 6:05 p.m. ET
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president of the Transitional Federal Government of
Somalia, spoke with reporters including The Wall Street Journal's Solomon
Moore on Wednesday at Villa Somalia, the transitional government's
administrative headquarters. A transcript of the news conference is below.
The questions are edited for brevity and clarity. Mr. Sharif's answers
appear as they were translated by his aide.
Q: What are you hoping will come out of the Somalia conference?
We're hoping that the London conference will support the progress that we
have achieved in terms of politics and security in Somalia.
Q: The international community has been critical of Somalia in terms of
corruption. What can you do to weed out corruption?
To curb corruption you have to have the proper mechanisms, and that's what
we put in place and that's what we hope to strengthen. But a lot of times
when we get reports from the international community, they get their reports
from elsewhere-organizations that are not on the ground and individuals that
don't have the facts. The resources that we get are very limited, and we're
quite happy to be open and transparent about it any time.
Q: Somaliland is a reluctant participant in the London conference. Can you
see why they would be amazed to be part of the transition when they already
have peace in their own territory?
Of course we're happy for Somaliland to participate in this conference. We
congratulate them for the peace and the system they have put in place in
terms of democracy. But as you know, you're aware of how the two sides
united in the first place and we hope to build on that in this conference.
Q: Why suddenly has the international community gotten interested in
I'm not the best person to be asked that question, and we hope to get
answers before this conference is finished.
Q: Is this the last chance for Somalia?
For every conference it has been said it's the last chance for Somalia. But
the Somali people are strong, they're courageous, they've gone through a lot
of problems. But the international community should not always put the blame
on Somalia. They should look for what they have contributed and what they
have done for Somalia. But in the end it will be up to Somalia to solve its
Q: You talk of international blame, but for 20 years haven't the problems of
Somalia been caused by Somalis?
That's not an easy question to answer. Of course the Somali people have to
have ownership of their own issues, but if you look at any country where
there has been a failure in the system the international community has come
to their aid. Look at other examples in other countries. The Somali people
are the same as any other people in the world. They want to live in peace in
peace and prosperity and of course when there's a lot of problems it needs
sometimes the help from the international community, but the end result is
that the Somali people must take ownership.
Q: Somalis have revolted against other foreign armies that have tried to
enter the country. Will there be a violent reaction against Amisom as it
It will be very different in a sense that the African Union is working
alongside the Somali forces who are here to bring about what the Somali
people aspire to, which is peace, unity and governance, and that's what
Somali people want and what they see these troops contributing to this
Q: Can you offer some concrete ideas what are you hoping for in this London
We want this conference to support the Road Map process [a comprehensive
U.N.-brokered plan that would lead to a constitution and elections by
August], the Mogadishu and Garowe agreements and we want this conference to
have concrete steps in supporting vital institutions in the government
whether security and other institutions. We also want agreements on
reconstruction and infrastructure in the country and also the humanitarian
issue-that's still an issue we have to deal with.
Q: Britain called this a brief window of opportunity. Does it feel like that
I see it as a window of opportunity and I think the international community
finally understands where the problems lie and I think we'll get a
Q: What are the problems?
For the international community to take the line they previously took-that
we can leave this situation as it is-I think they found that to be an
Q: Why is now different? Why the sense of hope?
This has come about, as the British government has said, as a result of the
progress we've made and this is simply to build on that progress. But it's
also at a moment when the international community and the Somali people
understand the importance of getting this right.
Q: But that's exactly what we were saying 12 years ago.
Of course it's always good to have meetings and conferences in order to find
solutions but the situation is different in that we've made progress that
can be built upon.
Q: When is Somalia going to be able to rely on its own troops? When
corruption going to end? When will you hand over power?
We're not where we were a year ago in terms of Somali security. It's much
better now; the numbers are greater, we're building on that steadily and
we're taking over security bit by bit through out the country. And in terms
of other issues of corruption, as I said before we've put in place a
mechanism to deal with that. Our income is very limited and it can easily be
verified and we're transparent about it. And the last issue, as you know the
transition period will come to an end and we have the Road Map process that
would obviously lead to elections.
Q: Could you see a time when there is western intervention in Somalia?
I think the African Union mission will succeed because of the purpose it has
and the support it has from the people.
Q: Will it need military hardware from the West?
Of course the military weapons they have are from the West.
Q: Do you think the United Nations arms embargo should be lifted on Somalia?
Of course, I think this is absolutely the time for the arms embargo to be
lifted because of the enemy we face, but we also feel that our forces are
being professional and trained and they're ready to take over
Q: How intertwined are al Shabaab and pirates on a financial level?
There's no doubt that there's a link between the two. We shouldn't say al
Shabaab now because they've formally announced that they're part of al
Qaeda, so we say al Qaeda in East Africa, and there is a link in how they
Q: When the Kenyans entered Somalia your office opposed the incursion. Then
you changed your mind after African Union made gains in Mogadishu. The
parliament is split down the middle-do politicians have the ability to step
into the breach?
With regard to Kenya, in the beginning we always worked together; we had a
good relationship, but of course we didn't want troops just coming in
without agreement. In the beginning the troops just came and we had to speak
out. After that and we agreed that we had to work together, cooperate at
every level in all military operations and the Transitional Federal
Government must take the lead role. Of course we're happy to welcome anyone
who's helping us fight al Qaeda but it has to be a Somali-led process and we
have to lead that process. We have asked Kenya to be part of Amisom [the
African Union Mission in Somalia] and they have agreed to that so that's a
good achievement on that front. There's been positive strides politically.
There's been there Garowe agreement the Road Map process, which clearly
highlights the way we're going to move forward from the transition. The new
parliament and also election. There's not only security improvement but a
political improvement whereby we've had signatories from all the entities of
Somalia working on the process which will finish the transition.
Q: What mechanisms have been put in place to deal with corruption,
especially regarding food aid?
We have a mechanism from the finance ministry. We have a financial
management team, which deals specifically with this issue, with the central
bank. Everything's done in a manner that is transparent in its
As you know, a lot of money that's donated to Somalia goes to NGOs, but they
don't directly deal with us. We set up an emergency disaster committee,
which is made up of ministers, and we've asked all organizations, NGOs and
governments to deal with those in terms of channeling humanitarian
assistance. Some countries work well with us. One example is Turkey and
everything is accountable. But some of them don't deal directly with the
government so we can't account for what they have wasted.
------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------
Received on Sun Mar 04 2012 - 18:55:53 EST