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Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential impact of the removal from office of the Speaker of the Somali Parliament on the prospect for a stable, self-governing and democratic Somalia. (110747)

The position of Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament is a matter for the parliament’s MPs. The Speaker was impeached by a parliamentary vote. 183 MPs voted in favour of removing the Speaker, eight voted against and one abstained. The President of the transitional federal government (TFG) must sign into effect the impeachment. Those voting in favour of the impeachment included members of the Speaker’s own clan.

A stable, self-governing and democratic Somalia can only be delivered in the long term by the success of the transitional federal institutions (TFI), including the TFG. The TFG was formed in 2004 out of the Nairobi peace process which brought together leaders from across Somali society to agree the transitional federal charter. This included agreement to a constitutional process eventually leading to elections. All major clans are represented in the TFG, which is recognised by the international community.

We are pressing the TFG to be inclusive and reach out to all Somalis in seeking a lasting and peaceful solution for Somalia; and urge the TFI to work together for the same objective.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to (a) the African Union, (b) Ethiopia, (c) Tanzania and (d) Kenya on the deployment of international peacekeepers to Somalia. (110710)

We are working closely with our international partners on this issue. John Sawers, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Director-General Political, represented the UK at the International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia in Nairobi on 5 January. Other members of the ICG include the African Union (AU), Tanzania and Kenya, in its role as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. In its communiqué, the ICG expressed an urgent need for funding to facilitate the deployment of a stabilisation force in Somalia, as envisaged in UN Security Council Resolution 1725. It welcomed Uganda's offer to be part of this force.

Since the ICG meeting we have had a range of discussions with our international partners on the deployment of an international force to Somalia. These include discussions between: my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Kikwete of Tanzania; my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham and Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia; our high commissioner in Nairobi and Foreign Minister Tuju of Kenya; and our ambassador in Addis Ababa and Said Djinnit of the AU’s Commission for Peace and Security.