Matt Baugh

Ambassador to Somalia

Part of UK in Somalia

22nd August 2012 Nairobi, Kenya

Somalia: Taking Stock of the Transition

UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham  on a visit to Mogadishu.

On Monday, Somalia marked a significant milestone in its history. Twenty years after the country fell into conflict, a new Federal Parliament was inaugurated – paving the way to end the Transition in the next few days, and opening the first legislature to be formed inside Somalia since 1991. This is a huge achievement, both for the people of Somalia and their representatives in Mogadishu.

Success in Somalia is not always easy to measure, and often much harder for those of us who follow developments day-in and day-out. We very rarely step back and look at what has been achieved overall. So I want to take stock of the successes of the last 12 months, because they have been significant and historic.

Firstly, the security situation has improved in a way that none of us thought possible. Thanks to the bravery of AMISOM troops and Somalia’s security forces, Mogadishu is no longer under the control of al-Shabaab; considerable gains have been made in Baidoa and Jubaland. Slowly but surely, Somalis are starting to rebuild their communities; I have seen first-hand life what this means – in Mogadishu, streets are returning to life, shops are opening; homes rebuilt.

Secondly, Somalia’s political process has moved forward. The Transition is ending; its final conclusion is only a matter of days away. Most notably, we now have the beginnings of a parliament that is more representative and more accountable to the Somali people than its predecessors; and a broadly representative National Constituent Assembly that has approved a new provisional Constitution. This is a Somali process, albeit one supported by the international community.

Thirdly, the international community is more united than it has been for a long time.  The London Conference in February and the Istanbul II Conference in June played a huge part in this, in particular that Somalia was a country that needed concerted, consistent and coherent support – but that the process needed to be owned and led by Somalis themselves.

Clearly the process could be better – it could still be more transparent; we still need more women to be represented in parliament and to be playing their vital and necessary role in Somalia’s political future. As a number of Somali women told me only the other day, Somalia has been carried on the back of women for over twenty years – a statement with which I entirely agree. Women have a vital role to play – not only in communities, families, businesses and homes; not only in building peace in Somalia, but also in its political leadership. And there is still a lot to do. In my conversations with Somalis, I am always struck by the consistent message: that the Transition must end; that the new Parliament and new Government need to be more credible, more legitimate and more accountable to the Somali people.

I was in Mogadishu on Sunday and Tuesday with my US and EU colleagues. We urged all those involved in the process – the Signatories, the Elders, the New Federal Parliament and the Technical Selection Committee – to continue to work together; to ensure that the remaining MPs are agreed, sworn in and allowed to take their seats in parliament; and to meet the quota for women’s representation.  As our Minister also reiterated yesterday, then elections can take place for a Speaker and President preferably in the next few days. Continued dialogue; engagement; discussion – this is what will move the process forward.

With this responsibility, however, comes accountability. I share the concern expressed by the SRSG, AU and IGAD about corruption and intimidation in the process. This is why it is so important that the new Parliament and Government commit to increasing transparency and fighting corruption. We stand ready to support our Somali counterparts in that effort, including through the Joint Financial Management Board, agreed at London and endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Right now, I look forward to the future with some optimism. The conclusion of the Transition should mark the beginning of more representative institutions. As we made clear in our recent joint statement, the international community’s priority remains simple – to ensure that the people of Somalia are better represented and become the beneficiaries of a better political process; a process that can deliver an enduring peace, sustainable economic recovery and the restoration of credible, legitimate and more accountable government prepared and able to meet the aspirations, hopes, freedoms and human rights of the Somali people. Ending the Transition and beginning a new phase in the long struggle for greater stability is within Somalia’s grasp.

As always I would very much welcome your views. What do you think about the end of the Transition? Despite the flaws in the process, what can the international community do to support our Somali counterparts in the next phase of government?

8 comments on “Somalia: Taking Stock of the Transition

  1. Let’s pray for u people coz u’ve passed very difficult times. As u’ve been out of your country,lets hope u’ll behave well infront of the foreign investors coz we’ve seen nations which had passed difficult times always remain hostile.good behaving people(country)needs good foreign investors so that their government could achieve and learn from them.

  2. The programme to end of the transition process that was agreed at the London Conference on Somalia on Feb. 23 is working, no doubt about that. But the campaign must continue, and we need to keep up the pressure on the spoilers of peace in order to produce the desired results by this Christmas. We are on the right track.

  3. Oh dear God how did we get here? Did any one else see the parliamentarians been sworn at the airport because it was deemed unsafe for them to be amongst the people they ‘represent’. Ambassador I am embarrassed for you because I cannot understand how is it that a man of your background and heritage can praise this process in any shape or manner. This goes against all of the rules of democratic process. History will no doubt judge your role here.

  4. I ,as a Somali citizen, am hereby expressing my gratitude to all governments, institutions and persons who gave a hand when we needed it. Infact, this time is when the Somali people are most in need of the help of the international community specially at this crucial time. I would also like to bring notice to the areas of responsibility, transparency and accountability which are the building blocks of good governance that can be ensured by having in place a powerfull anti-corruption act and anti-corruption body. With this also comes the representation of women and minorities in the political system.

  5. The international community – and other stakeholders – must involve young Somali women and men in all their efforts. A new dawn for Somalia can be realized by involving and using the energy and potential of young people- many of whom lack education and experience but can still be shaped to be future leaders. However, there are more than a handful of educated and budding, yet underutilized young men and women among them.

  6. The International Community can train the new members of the government. It is fair to expect any of them to know what to do. They will all be brand new. They all need mentors and training.

  7. I would like to express my sincere of gratitude to UK government for their consistence and tireless efforts towards getting better future for Somalis. Your effort will be unforgettable. I would suggest that the UK government, EU, AU and other Somali friend to come up with unified effort to oversight the properly ending of the Transitional government, this can be done by nominating new committee who have no previous relationship with Somali people particular the current candidates. Its quite obvious that some of the current international actors in Mogadishu that I would not like to name by now are implementing their hidden agenda, which is a tactic that can paralyze your efforts.

    As a local Somali civil society, we see some visible discrepancy in the selection process of the new parliament members; the process was overwhelmed by some candidates’ interests. For one thing, I have realized that when I have seen a PHD parliament candidate who have no previous bad record in Somalia was nominated by his traditional leader among 135 leaders, but he was rejected by the Technical Committee to be member of the new parliament and located a famous female Somali singer to his position instead, she has never attended a school in her life. This is because the PHD holder has some political ambitions in contrast the singer should vote to X presidential candidate for the favor of the Technical Committee.

    For this scenario, there may be worse cases in the process and unless it will deeply monitor by the international community things will continue to spoil.

  8. How can we trust a transition process that 
    A) lacks legitimacy
    B) Returned 60% of Prevoius MPs (some of whom are criminals, gangsters and experts at asset stripping state funds)
    C) Allows the President,PM,Speaker and ministers of regime that looted UK Aid money to the tune $130 million.
    D) allows process to be drafted and own by same corrupt individuals

    Matt, I hear you mutter, some of these embezzling will not happen again as JFMB will be in place. What you don’t relies yet is that you are dealing with career criminals, the Alshabaab of the paper and pen, they have taken the transition ship and it’s crew hostage. They couldn’t care less. And what about Justice? They walk way with millions of UK tax payers Aid fund without answering for it?

    To rescue the transition ship with paying ransom I suggest:

    -Act with dispatch to censure anyone concretely implicated in corruption and intimidation and, consequently, in the defilement of the process to end the Transition successfully.
    – Urge the new parliament to immediately establish an authoritative electoral commission to put into place an election process and then monitor the proceedings to make sure that they are conducted in fair, transparent and orderly fashion.
    – Organize an appropriate cohort of international observers to witness the legitimacy of the elections

    -Set up a mechanism to ensure the safety of the new members of parliament, during the days in which the elections are underway.


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About Matt Baugh

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3 small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May…

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London
specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3
small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May 2010, when he was appointed the UK’s Senior Representative and Head of the UK’s
Somalia Office. On 2 February 2012 he was accredited as the first
British Ambassador to Somalia for 21 years. Since taking up his Somalia
appointment, he has been able to travel to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and
Garowe, and has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome he has received, but also the scale of the challenges that Somali people face
every day.
Matt is a career civil servant and is currently on secondment to the
Foreign Office from the UK Department for International Development. Now 37, he has spent much of his career to date dealing with conflict,
security and humanitarian issues. Since 1999 he has worked in Iraq,
Sudan, Afghanistan and the Balkans, as well as a number of major relief
operations and protracted emergencies. He also helped to set up and lead
the UK’s Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now the UK Stabilisation
Unit. Matt is a graduate of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff
College’s Higher Command and Staff Course (2010) and was previously
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International
Development (2008-9).
Away from work, Matt is an avid England rugby fan (although he
refuses to admit his own playing days are long over). He is also a keen
mountaineer and skier and, together with Caroline, was part of a team
that raced to the Magnetic North Pole in 2005. These days he is more
likely to be found teaching his children how to swim and build