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Rawlings Advices Somali Political Leaders   
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Former President Jerry John Rawlings has urged Somali political leadership to ensure that the progress of political transition runs in tandem with the military gains achieved recently.

He said it was important that political stakeholders in Somalia take the implementation of the new political roadmap seriously, the success of which, will weaken any opposition and strengthen the resolve of the people to support and vigilantly protect the gains achieved.

Even if we dont fully achieve the ultimate goals but demonstrate a tenacity of purpose to bring the transition to an end, it will create strong hope for the future, Ex-President Rawlings said.

A statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Saturday from the Former Presidents Office, said Mr Rawlings made the comments at a meeting with the President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG), Sheik Sharif in Mogadishu on Thursday.

Former President Rawlings, who is the African Union High Representative to Somalia was on a working visit to that country. He also visited the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers who had been injured in recent fighting in the Somali capital.

Days after a suicide bomb in the Government quarters of Mogadishu claimed the lives of over 80 people, mostly students, President Rawlings said: I came here to express my condolences over that brutal and cowardly act. It is a clear attempt to disrupt the normalcy resuming in Mogadishu.

He, however, expressed his pleasure at the beehive of activity within central Mogadishu and also called on the political leadership to ensure that the gains in Mogadishu are consolidated and confidence reposed in the people.

Make haste slowly. Expand not at the expense of consolidating the peace and security in Mogadishu, former President Rawlings advised.

TFG leader, Sheik Sharif thanked President Rawlings for his visit and described the recent suicide bombing as barbaric.

Sheik Sharif said with the gains chalked in consolidating a grip on Mogadishu, the TFG was working with partners to strengthen local security.

He noted also that plans were underway to restructure the Somali armed forces to make it more professional.

We also need to provide basic infrastructure such as schools, water and have better reactionary mechanism to future emergencies, he said.

The statement said former President Rawlings had earlier called on the leadership of the AMISOM, led by Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC), Wafula Wamunyinyi and Force Commander Major General Fred Mugisha.

He also visited the AMISOM hospital where he interacted with staff and patients, mostly wounded soldiers. He interacted with a few civilian patients, who were on admission for various ailments.

One of the patients, an injured rebel fighter said he was wooed by the promises of riches to fight against the TFG but his expectations had been elusive.

Former President Rawlings also held brief discussions with Burundis Defense Minister, Major General Pontien Gaciyubwenge who was also visiting Mogadishu. The AMISOM military wing comprises mainly soldiers from Burundi and Uganda.

The statement said the DSRCC, Wafula Wamunyinyi and James Gadin, Political Officer for AMISOM accompanied former President Rawlings on his tour.
Source: gna

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