Mogadishu (Somalilandsun) – The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), Somalia’s first think tank, has launched the “Forum for Ideas” to facilitate discussions on key policy issues.
The first event was convened on Tuesday at a conference facility at HIPS’ headquarters in Mogadishu, known as Heritage House. The topic of discussion was: the U.S. recognition of the Somali government, its meaning, implications and the best way the Somali government and people could capitalize on this opportunity.
The invitation-only event was attended by 25 representatives from academia, civil society, business, media and the government, including the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mohamed Sharif and Deputy Chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, Hon. Mohamed Omar Dalha. HIPS fellow Dr. Afyare Elmi, who teaches at Qatar University, was also among the discussants.
“Our view is to make the Forum for Ideas a platform to foster social discourse on issues of national importance, and to help inform our own research and analysis,” said Abdi Aynte, director of HIPS, who moderated the event.
Among the participants were a senior policy adviser at the Prime Minister’s office, professors at local universities, two retired generals, including General Ahmed Jama, former police commissioner, civil society leaders and senior diplomats such as Ambassador Fadumo Issak Bihi, Somalia’s former envoy to the UN and Ambassador Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim, current Somali ambassador to China (and a former foreign minister) as well as senior representatives from the business community.
The participants engaged in a frank discussion and covered all issues pertaining to the U.S. recognition of Somalia amid renewed optimism and signs of recovery. They debated the implications for semi-autonomous regional administrations, particularly the dialogue between Somaliland and the Somali government.
“We were impressed by the depth and breadth of the participants, and the civil nature of the discussions,” said Aynte. “Clearly, time has come for such discourse to contribute to the national policy considerations.”
The Heritage Institute will hold similar discussions on regular basis to enhance the public understanding of policy matter affecting Somalia.
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