Somalia asks for international support

Britain pledges millions to help train security forces and judges for war-torn country at conference in London.

Fifty countries and organisations have gathered in London for an international conference aimed at preventing Somalia from slipping back into lawlessness.

David Cameron, UK prime minister, and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somali president, are co-hosting Tuesday’s meeting, which hopes to bolster political stability in the Horn of Africa country.

Britain has pledged $15m to help train Somali security forces and judges.

“The Somalia conference in London aims to capitalise 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.

Organisations such as the UN, the African Union, the International Monetary Fund and Somalia’s neighbours are among those invited.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, reporting from Mogadishu on Tuesday, said the feeling in Somalia seemed to be that this was one in a line of international conferences, and it was unlikely the results would be seen.

“A lot of people mention that this is one in a series of international conferences and people are yet to see the outcome of these on the ground,” he said.

“If the security situation in Somalia breaks down, there is a fear we could see a resurgence of Islamic extremism and piracy. The key reason for the drop in hijackings is seen as the increase of security.”

Big challenges

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, President Mohamud said security was at the top of the list of his country’s priorities.

“We have a six pillar policy frameworks to build the foundations of a new beginning for Somalia,” he said.

“Today, among the other priorities, security is the top one.”

Somalia has been battered by conflict since 1991, but a new United Nations-backed government took power in September, ending more than a decade of transitional rule.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud talks to Al Jazeera

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabbab armed group was driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011 by a regional military offensive, but have carried out a series of attacks in recent months.

The conference follows on from ones held in London in February 2012 and Istanbul four months later.

Britain’s Cameron said despite the progress made by the Somali government since then, big challenges remained.

“Tragic and despicable” recent attacks on Mogadishu are a reminder of “how much work we still have to do,” he said.

“The message at the second London summit will be clear: We will not allow Somalia to fall back. The Somali people are seizing the opportunity to forge a new future and we will support them every step of the way.

“Together I hope we can all get behind a long-term security plan that helps Somalia build up its army, its police and its judiciary; one that ends the Shabab’s reign of terror forever.

“I hope we can work towards getting Somalia the vital finance it needs to deal with its debts.

“I also hope we can improve transparency and accountability so people know where resources are going.

“We also need to continue the process of rebuilding the Somali state in an inclusive way.”