Italy ambassador to Somalia says 'Puntland Convention was milestone' [Interview] 20 Apr 20, 2012 - 9:36:30 AM
GAROWE, Somalia Apr 19 2012 (Garowe Online) – Italy's envoy to Somalia Ambassador Andrea Mazzella has commended the Puntland Constitutional Convention that concluded in northern Somalia this week, Garowe Online reports.
Italian ambassador in Somalia Andrea Mazzella Photo Garowe Online
In an exclusive interview with Garowe Online, Amb. Mazzella was among visiting foreign dignitaries at the Puntland Constitutional Convention which concluded on Wednesday.
The Convention concluded when 472 out of 480 representatives from across Puntland voted "yes" to adopt the Puntland State Constitution.
Garowe Online asked Amb. Mazzella about the convention and its outcome. "The Garowe Convention is a milestone in the Puntland history," he said, adding: "This is an example of how things could be managed with political dialogue."
Amb. Mazzella cautioned that the initial progress needs to be continued by upholding and implementing the new constitution. "The constitution is not a given document but is a process and possibly needs to be discussed in more details in the future but this is a very good starting point and I hope the Somalia constitution being drafted in Mogadishu will receive such big results."
As the international community keeps a close eye on Somalia, aid assistance and developmental projects being conducted in the war-torn country are increasing.
Italy is a former colonial power in Somalia that has kept close ties to the country since independence and Amb. Mazzella announced that Italy will be implementing development projects in Somalia.
Martini Hospital named after a famous Italian General was built in 1912 in Mogadishu and used as a military hospital during the reign of Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre. But the Barre regime collapsed in 1991, Martini Hospital ceased to function.
Italy's ambassador to Somalia announced that the dilapidated hospital would be renovated by the Italian government. He also added that the Italian government would conduct infrastructure projects in Puntland State in the near future.
Amb. Mazzella recently visited Mogadishu and met with TFG Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas. He then attended the Puntland Constitutional Convention in Garowe, stressing that there has to be an impartial selection of traditional elders who will choose the representatives of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) and members of the new Somali Federal Parliament.
The Italian ambassador reiterated that point when he spoke to Garowe Online on Thursday. "The 135 elders who will nominate the NCA and the MPs are very crucial to the Roadmap success. If the selection of elders is transparent and real, and traditional elders are selected including elders from areas that Al Shabaab occupy then the goal could be possibly achieved." On the other hand Amb. Mazzella said if the selection of traditional elders is biased then Somalia risks heading back to anarchy and disorder.
While in Mogadishu, Amb. Mazzella met with Prime Minister Gaas, who very narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on 4 April 2012 by Al Shabaab suicide bomber which killed 8, including government officials and sports officials.
Speculation of government officials being involved or having knowledge of the suicide bombing has been looming. Prime Minister Gaas appointed a ministerial committee led by Defense Minister Hussein Isse Arab to investigate the bomb blast after claims that TFG senior officials planned the attack.
Amb. Mazzella announced his support for the inquiry while in Mogadishu. Garowe Online asked Amb. Mazzella if an independent body should be set up to investigate the bombing, due to the growing speculation of government involvement in the failed assassination attempt on Prime Minister Gaas.
The Italian ambassador said: "We support the efforts of the government's inquiry to highlight the responsibility [of government officials] if some responsibility is present but I do not think it is necessary for an independent body to investigate."
As for the speculation of officials having involvement in the blast, Amb. Mazzella went on to say: "Until the inquiry is concluded we should suspend our judgment and leave the committee to investigate and if the investigation provides evidence that there is government involvement in the attack then I am positive that it will surface."
The adoption of Puntland's constitution paves the way for the formation of political parties and holding democratic elections. Puntland, located in northeastern Somalia, considered itself part of federal Somalia and has experienced relative stability since 1998 with its own state government, elections, polices, and security forces.