PROCEEDINGS OF THE MEETING
The meeting was divided into four segments:
Presidential and ministerial addresses: the President of Djibouti and other speakers reaffirmed the commitment of their respective countries and of IGAD to Somalia's reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
On day one, the foreign minister of the republic of Djibouti, H.E. Ali Abdi Farah and the assistant foreign minister of the republic of Kenya, H.E. Mirugi Kariuki, made persuasive statements to open the proceedings. Both ministers reiterated calls for private-sector representatives to support the peace process and to pledge their sustained commitment. Speakers also reaffirmed the wish to see Somalia enjoy a lasting peace, which was described as being in the best interests also of neighboring countries. Also, Khalif Issa, a spokesperson for the Somali business community addressed the conference, asserting the need for a Somali government that will not only protect its private sector, but also promote greater economic integration within the region. Mr. Issa closed by emphasizing the commitment of Somalia's business-men and -women to their country's future.
Briefing on the status of the peace process and donor intentions toward the new government: Participants were apprised of the status of the talks at Mbagathi, and also heard testimonials of donor support and post-reconstruction plans for a new Somali government. The EU representative, Mr. Paul Simkin, provided a detailed presentation of a draft rapid assistance program to be implemented by the international donor community to support the new government. He went on to outline the international community's priorities with respect to the rebuilding of Somalia and a new Somali government.
The Working Sessions: In keeping with its participatory approach, and to encourage the commitment of the participants, CRD/WSP International prepared a series of questions to be discussed and answered by three groups formed from the participants. The three groups were randomly selected and given time to discuss and formulate their responses to ten questions, which addressed substantively, political, economic and security issues. After hours of deliberation, the groups re-assembled in the conference hall and each selected a spokesperson to present their answers. The conclusions of the deliberations were compiled and formed the basis of the joint statement
Commitment to the future: The business community formalized its determination to actively participate in the peace process by forming a "Contact Group" to liaise and spearhead cooperation with the new transitional authority and the international community. The Chairman of the Somali business group, Mr. Sharif Ahmed declared that the Somali business community fully supports the peace process at Mbagathi. Also, the business community will provide some initial financial assistance to the peace process, and it will work closely with the future Somali government. Mr. Sharif Ahmed and the ministers present signed a joint declaration formalizing the intentions of the business community, with the president of the republic of Djibouti as a witness.
The joint statement of the Somali Business Community in the Djibouti meeting codifies: the participants' cognizance of recent positive developments at Mbagathi and the urgency and sensitivity of ongoing dialogue there; participants' acknowledgement that security is a multidimensional concern and that their involvement is vital with respect to, among other issues, demilitarization, demobilization and maintenance of a ceasefire. Further, participants: agreed to support and comply with the UN Security council arms embargo on Somalia (Resolution 792; 1992); resolved to form a Somali chamber of commerce as soon as possible; stated their preference for a free-market economy in a reconstituted Somalia and economic integration with the region's economies; and sought regional and international assistance to promote Somalia's economic recovery.
After the closing ceremony, the Somali business leaders had separate afternoon sessions with Kenya's special envoy for Somalia, Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, Kenya's assistant foreign affairs minister, Mr. Mirugi Kariuki and Ethiopia's minister for foreign affairs, H.E. Seyoum Mesfin. Discussions in these meetings were reportedly cordial yet substantive and pertained to the past and the future of Somalia and the region.