AU High Representative for Somalia, President Jerry John Rawlings who was in Ethiopia to participate in the 10th meeting of the AU Panel of the Wise met on the sidelines with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn and participated in an Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa reconciliation ceremony.
Speaking during the meeting in Addis Ababa on Saturday, President Rawlings said it was important that all parties within the Somali political structure work towards a smooth election.
President Rawlings and Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn agreed that dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government and the Transitional Federal Parliament was important towards strengthening the peace process. They also agreed on the need to stick to the timetable for Presidential elections and ensure that reforms are carried out after the elections.
The former Ghanaian President said as Somalia prepares for presidential elections care has to be taken to make the country’s constitution more culturally sensitive.
President Rawlings said: “We must be careful and make sure that as we move forward that we relook the constitution and make it more culturally sensitive.”
President Rawlings also witnessed an agreement between various factions of the moderate Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) that have been waging war against the extremist Harakat Al Shabaab Mujahideen.
Although ASWJ had signed an agreement with the Transitional Federal Government on 15 March 2010, some of the factions of the ASWJ had not completely signed on the agreement.
Infighting within ASWJ had occurred in recent weeks threatening to weaken the group’s efforts to defeat Al Shabaab in Somalia’s Central, Hiraan and Gedo regions.
The agreement signed by Sheikh Mahamud Sheikh Hassan Farah and other factions of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa was facilitated by IGAD and calls for all ASWJ factions to unite and elect one leadership, to recognize the 15 March 2010 agreement with the TFG and paves the way for the organization to receive assistance from the international community.
President Rawlings was accompanied by the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia, Honourable Kipruto Arap Kirwa, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission (SRCC), Ambassador Boubacar Diarra, General Arnold Quainoo and Mr. Herbert Mensah.