“The road is long but we are not giving up. Yesterday I spoke to the media and told them we were not going to let people hijack and take over the process. Women and children in Somalia deserve a better future and we will not give up on them.
“A Prime Minister is to be selected imminently though there are still some spoilers who have demonstrated they will fight again. After the PM has been selected, the next step is to transfer Parliament to Mogadishu. I was urged to take a seat in Cabinet but I have decided not to as it would prevent me from criticising government actions when needed. At this critical time voices like mine for peace and reconciliation are very important. I do not want to compromise my relationship and the trust I have with the people.
“I was part of a Somali delegation which had a very positive meeting with the Ethiopian President and Foreign Minister. My presence was important as I was openly critical of the Ethiopians. When the public saw me shaking hands with the President it sent a powerful message to them. The meeting was a truly historic moment and the Ethiopians showed a very positive commitment to peace.
“Much of my work has been about pushing for women to be included in Parliament. We now know that there are eight women in the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS). This is really important. Everybody sees them as Islamic extreme fanatics but the inclusion of women shows this is not the case. It has helped boost people’s faith in them not to be radical but inclusive and to work for peace.
“The coming times are crucial and it is vital the momentum is not lost. It is possible that the new parliament could go down the wrong path and if that happens it will be extremely hard to bring them back. This is a critical time to make sure the government stays on the right path. The priorities are:
“The DfID funding, that Peace Direct secured, has contributed to all of the above – but there is still a lot of potential to go wrong and it is essential that the momentum is not lost.”