Delegates have gathered in London for a conference on Somalia, aimed at consolidating recent signs of progress in the country. The conference comes in the wake of a deadly suicide bombing that killed 11.
Almost 50 countries, as well as major international organizations were taking part in the donor conference in the British capital on Tuesday.
The British Foreign Office said the aim was to coordinate support for the country's institutions, reducing the risk of any slide back into complete lawlessness. Somalia has been wracked by internal conflict since 1991 but a new UN-backed administration, which took power in September, has been regarded as having been at least a partial success.
"The Somalia conference in London aims to capitalize on the significant progress made over the past year and to agree coordinated international support for the government of Somalia's plans to build political stability by improving security, police, justice and public financial management systems," Britain's Foreign Office said ahead of the event.
While the conference draft communiqué recognizes an "urgent need" for financial support for the country, it also highlights a requirement for financial accountability and transparency.
Progress against militants
The al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shebab was driven out of the capital, Mogadishu, in a regional military offensive in August 2011.
However, militants have been able to carry out a string of attacks in recent months. The latest, killing 11 people, came on Sunday when a suicide attacker rammed a car filled with explosives into a government convoy.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is jointly hosting the conference along with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, branded the attacks "tragic and despicable" and a reminder of why the conference was necessary. A first set of talks took place in February.
"The message at the second London summit will be clear: we will not allow Somalia to fall back," said Cameron. "The Somali people are seizing the opportunity to forge a new future and we will support them every step of the way."
Kenya as ‘vital partner'
The UN, the African Union and the International Monetary Fund are among those invited, as well as neighboring states.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces trial in the International Criminal Court in July for crimes against humanity, arrived in London on Monday for the summit. The charges relate to post-presidential election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.
Like other European Union members, Britain has a policy of only engaging in essential contact with those charged by the ICC.
A British government source described Kenya as a "vital partner" on Somalia, providing nearly 5,000 troops in the fight against militants.
rc/lw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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