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UPDATE
Second Garowe Conference Concludes
African Union Approves More Troops
By MOHAMED ODOWA 02/18/2012
Garowe Conference (From left: Amb Mahiga, PM Abdiweli, Speaker Hassan, Puntland President Farole
Garowe Conference (From left: Amb Mahiga, PM Abdiweli, Speaker Hassan, Puntland President Farole
The second leg of a UN-brokered consultative conference on Somalia’s charter held in Garowe, the capital city of Puntland, concluded successfully according to participants on Friday night.

Participants from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Galmudug, Puntland state of Somalia and Ahlus Sunna wal Jamaah (ASWJ) along with international observers and regional actors, discussed the conclusion of the transitional period for the TFG, which is set to expire in August.

Attendants at Friday’s closing ceremony, held at 11:30pm local time (2130 GMT), included the Somali TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the putative speaker of parliament Sharif Hasan Sheikh Aden, Premier Abdiwali Mohamed Ali, Puntland President Cabdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole, Galmudug president Mohamed Ahmed Alin, ASWJ representative Khalif Abdiqadir Ma’alin Nur, and United Nations (UN) special envoy to Somalia Dr. Augustine Mahiga.

Some critical issues which had led to Galmudug delegates withdrawing from the conference earlier were reportedly resolved, following a private meeting by Somali political leaders.

Minister of Constitutional Affairs for TFG Xosh Jibril highlighted some of the main issues and articles that were discussed. According to the Minister, one article was all about on how it is important for Somalia to transition from transitional period to sustainable government.

“The second article is that the parliament should be divided into two parliamentary houses, a lower house that would consist of 225 members, and an upper house that would consist of 54 senators, of which 30% would be female,” said Mr. Jibril. “The president should be elected through constitutional election and he will select a prime minister who would go ahead then to build his cabinet.”

Puntland President Farole pointed out that Somali political leaders have a golden opportunity to resolve their differences. He thanked Puntland security forces for their capacity to handle the security in Garowe during the conference.

UN envoy Mr. Augustine Mahiga expressed satisfaction with the conference, saying it was crucial for all participants, especially for those Somalis who were able to work out their internal challenges. Mr. Mahiga noted that Somali women had won terrific recognition by guaranteeing 30% representation in the upper house.

President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said, “We have a historic moment here in Garowe tonight and it is very important for Somalis around the world, as we have resolved our political differences.”

UN Approves Additional Peacekeepers

According to UN special envoy Mr. Augustine Mahiga, the UN Security Council approved sending more African Union peacekeepers to Somalia, increasing the AMISOM troop level to 17,731 troops.