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Former President Rawlings meets Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister

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Jerry Rawlings

President Jerry John Rawlings, AU High Representative for Somalia, has held a meeting with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn.

President Rawlings, who was in Ethiopia to participate in the 10th meeting of the AU Panel of the Wise, held the meeting on the sidelines and participated in an Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa reconciliation ceremony.

A statement copied to Ghana News Agency  in Accra, said President Rawlings, speaking during the meeting in Addis Ababa at the week-end, said it was important that all parties within the Somali political structure worked towards a smooth election.

President Rawlings and Mr Hailemariam Desalegn agreed that dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government and the Transitional Federal Parliament was important towards strengthening the peace process in Somalia.

They also agreed on the need to stick to the timetable for Presidential elections and ensure that reforms were carried out after the elections.

President Rawlings said as Somalia prepared for Presidential elections care had to be taken to make the country’s constitution more culturally sensitive, adding: “We must be careful and make sure that as we move forward that we re-look the constitution and make it more culturally sensitive.”

President Rawlings also witnessed an agreement between various factions of the moderate Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) that have been waging war against the extremist Harakat Al Shabaab Mujahideen.

Although ASWJ had signed an agreement with the Transitional Federal Government on March 15, 2010, some of the factions of the ASWJ had not completely signed on the agreement.

Infighting within ASWJ had occurred in recent weeks threatening to weaken the group’s efforts to defeat Al Shabaab in Somalia’s Central, Hiraan and Gedo regions.

The agreement signed by Sheikh Mahamud Sheikh Hassan Farah and other factions of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa was facilitated by IGAD and calls for all ASWJ factions to unite and elect one leadership, to recognise the March 15, 2010 agreement with the TFG and paves the way for the organisation to receive assistance from the international community.

President Rawlings was accompanied by the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia, Kipruto Arap Kirwa, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission (SRCC), Mr Boubacar Diarra, General Arnold Quainoo and Mr Herbert Mensah.

Source: GNA

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