28 June 2010The outgoing United Nations envoy for Somalia has called on the country’s leaders to remain focused on the priorities ahead for the Horn of Africa nation as it seeks to overcome years of conflict and build peace. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, in a farewell letter to the Somali diaspora, thanked the leadership of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) with whom he has worked since taking up his post as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia and encouraged them to build on the progress already made. “I invite the current leadership to remain focused on essential priority tasks and to have a larger picture of the present and future of the country and their own regime rather than daily and short term priorities,” he wrote. He noted that peace will take time due to “important vested interests, local and also international,” including illegal trade, fishing, dumping of waste and piracy. “But a determined Government, accepted or tolerated by Somalis and supported by the international community, can make irreversible progress towards stability,” stated Mr. Ould-Abdallah, a national of Mauritania who helped facilitate the Djibouti Peace Agreement, on which current peace and reconciliation efforts in Somalia are based. He added that many countries genuinely want to help Somalia. “However, to be honest, Somalia’s public image in Africa and the Middle East has been badly damaged over the years by the overall behaviour of the leaderships (government and opposition) in Mogadishu. “A long, sustained effort is needed to reverse that negative perception,” he stressed.The Special Representative highlighted some of the progress made in recent years, including the one-and-a-half-year-old Government currently in place in a country that has been without a functioning central government for two decades.Progress has also been made with respect to the Constitution, of which a first draft will be presented by 1 July, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence, he added.Mr. Ould-Abdallah, who has served as the UN’s envoy for Somalia since September 2007, will be succeeded by Augustine Mahiga, who currently serves as Tanzania’s Ambassador to the UN in New York.