Ghana's former President and African Union (AU) High Representative for Somalia, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings says the people of Somalia must be given an opportunity to lead the quest for peace in their country.
President Rawlings said Somalis must be encouraged to embrace a sense of nationalism and recognise that without a patriotic zeal to work together to resolve the crisis, their country will continue to sink.
Speaking at an extraordinary summit of the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa on Sunday, President Rawlings sought the support of the regional group to interface with the factions in Somalia to instil in them the need to embrace the peace process and suggest ways of resolving the crisis.
IGAD, a regional group of countries with close proximity to Somalia, comprising Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Sudan was instrumental in the appointment of President Rawlings as AU High Representative.
President Rawlings said the Somalia issue had taken a life of its own escalating onto the high seas through piracy and terrorist activity as happened in last July's twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda.
In attendance at the IGAD meeting were Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Presidents Omar Al Bashir of Sudan, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Djibouti's Omar Guelle and Sharif Ahmed of Somalia. Also present were former Presidents Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. The two were instrumental in brokering the peace process in Sudan.
President Rawlings has held a series of high-level meetings with major stakeholders and contributors to the peace process in Somalia.
He also held a meeting with Somali President, Sharif Ahmed. The two discussed the situation in Somalia and the Somali President expressed his commitment to the desire by President Rawlings to interface with the various factions to work for the common good of Somalia.
On Friday January 28, President Rawlings held meetings with Mr. Ahmed Salah Al-Dein Noah, Ambassador of the League of Arab States to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the American Ambassador to the AU, Mr. John Battle and Koen Vervaeke, European Union Special Representative to the African Union as well as a host of ambassadors from the EU.
On Sunday morning President Rawlings also participated in the opening session of the Summit of Head of State of the African Union held at the auditorium of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Author: Jerry John Rawlings/Visit Former President Rawlings' blog site/http://jjrawlings.wordpress.com/