African Union Summit High-Level Meeting on Somalia

James B. Steinberg
Deputy Secretary of State
UN Conference Center at the ECA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 31, 2011

The United States would like to thank the co-hosts, the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations for convening this group at a critical juncture in Somalia's history. Bringing peace to, and then rebuilding, Somalia is a long-term commitment. The United States remains deeply engaged with Somalis and the international community in the effort to stabilize Somalia. The threat from Al-Shabaab endangers the Somali people, Somalia’s neighbors, and the international community.

Al-Shabaab continues to suppress and terrorize the Somali people through extortion, threats, violence, the murder and mutilation of innocent civilians, the forced conscription of children, and the denial of desperately needed humanitarian aid. Piracy emanating from Somalia threatens international shipping, commerce, and regional development, and the ransom money flowing into Somalia and its neighbors is further destabilizing the region. Somalia is exporting instability in the form of terrorism against its neighbors as the attack in Kampala so vividly showed.

AMISOM is important and we support its expansion. But, we clearly need broad-based, inclusive, and responsible political institutions that can meet the needs of the Somali people. Although we have had high expectations for the TFG and have supported it financially, we are disappointed by the lack of progress achieved over the last several years. The TFG must increase its level of accountability and efficiency and focus on serving the Somali people.

As the drought in Somalia further exacerbates an already dire situation, these pressures weigh even more on Somalia’s most vulnerable populations.

Somali reconciliation, cooperation, and unity of purpose are needed at this time. As the August 2011 mandate for the TFG draws to an end, the TFG should consult widely, including with Somali and all its key international partners, on a pragmatic path forward that builds on the progress of the Djibouti Peace Process and avoids political mistakes of the past. Unilateral action by the TFG on next steps past August would be unacceptable. We also want to avoid starting a new lengthy and costly international political process, especially one that takes place outside of Somalia. We need to avoid a vacuum—but we cannot continue with business as usual. The future of the TFG must be the product of a dialogue among key stakeholders, including key donors and the UN.

We should build on the small accomplishments of the past two years, not begin anew but adopt expanded and enhanced approaches that will result in stability for Somalia.

I would like to comment briefly on the discussions on Sudan earlier this morning. We congratulate Sudan officials on a successful Southern Sudan referendum and applaud their efforts to create conditions that allowed voters to express their will without fear, intimidation, or coercion.

Following the preliminary results just released, we look forward to announcement of the final results in the coming week, and to the Sudanese government’s acceptance of the outcome of the referendum.

The United States is committed to working with both North and South to ensure a peaceful and more prosperous future for all Sudanese. In the coming months, we will look to the parties to continue to draw on the same spirit of cooperation that made the referendum possible as they work to reach agreement on arrangements that will define their future relationship.

Substantial work remains and both parties must remain actively engaged in negotiations that will, at the end of the interim period, lead to peaceful separation of these two states and create the basis for a long-lasting and peaceful relationship. The U.S. remains particularly concerned over the fate of Abyei, where tribal loyalty and historic movement of people continue to create tensions that could spark renewed conflict. Equally as important remain the post-referendum arrangements on border security, citizenship, revenue sharing, oil and the division of debt. Progress can only be achieved on these very tough issues through the same spirit of mutual cooperation that made the recent Southern Sudan referendum so successful.

To this end, we believe that there can be mutual benefits to a stronger U.S.-Sudan relationship. There is a clear path to that can lead to an economically strong, stable Sudan. But, to get there, the Government of Sudan also must address the situation in Darfur. We remain deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian situation there. We strongly urge the Government of Sudan to ensure that UNAMID enjoys the freedom of movement required to fulfill its mandate and to allow aid workers access to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to all Darfuris.

We also urge Sudan to take all necessary steps to create a political and security environment conducive for holding political talks on Darfur.

This includes ensuring respect for freedom of speech and assembly, as well as allowing civil society to operate free of harassment.

Chairperson Ping, Secretary General Ban, and Prime Minister Meles, thank you again for calling these very important meetings today. We look forward to continuing the discussion.