Somalia progress: US official visits Mogadishu

Jun 10, 2012, 6:41 PM

Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – The highest ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia’s capital in nearly two decades landed in Mogadishu on Sunday in another sign of improving security in the Horn of Africa’s most chaotic nation.

Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived at the seaside airport Sunday morning, where he met with the Somalia’s president and prime minister.

African Union troops pushed al-Shabab fighters out of the capital in August, allowing markets and even the arts to flourish for the first time in years. The U.N.’s top official visited in December _ the first visit by the U.N. secretary general in nearly two decades.

At a news conference in neighboring Kenya after the trip, Carson said he traveled to Mogadishu to acknowledge the “significant progress” made in the capital, especially over the last year, but he was also there to meet with government officials and urge them to make sure the political work on the constitution and upcoming elections are completed.

A new constitution and government are supposed to be in place on or before Aug. 20, when the U.N. mandate for the current transitional government expires. The international community is pressing Somali leaders to finish that work.

“There has been substantial progress made on the security front in Mogadishu and the environs,” Carson said. “A lot of this is the credit and work of” African Union troops.

Carson did not leave the airport compound, which is secured by Ugandan and Burundian troops, a sign that U.S. security officials did not believe that driving through Mogadishu’s streets _ where al-Shabab can still launch insurgent attacks _ was safe.

Al-Shabab, which only two years ago controlled most of Mogadishu, now faces military pressure on three sides. African Union troops last month attacked and took control of Afgoye, an al-Shabab stronghold on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Kenyan troops are moving toward the al-Shabab-controlled port city of Kismayo in the south, and Ethiopian troops are pressuring militant fighters in Somalia’s west.

Somali government leaders have a lot of work to do over the next two months. The U.N. mandate that gives power to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government expires Aug. 20. Somali elders are supposed to pass a new constitution and vote on a new, smaller parliament before then, and a vote to elect a new president and prime minister are also to be held on or before Aug. 20.

The upcoming political transition was one of the main reasons behind Carson’s visit. U.S., European and other world leaders are demanding progress from Somalia’s politicians to burnish the military progress being made by the African Union military force.

Carson noted that eight or nine diplomatic missions now have personnel in Mogadishu on a full- or part-time basis, but he did not say the U.S. had any plans to reopen an embassy in Somalia.

“We will in Washington continue to assess the security situation and when we believe it is both appropriate and safe we will consider stationing officials there,” Carson said. “But I underscore that things are moving in a very positive direction there. We want to encourage that continued forward progress.”


AP reporter Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in...
Associated Press

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters hit by drone strike

An explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up Sunday at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula.
19 days ago
Medical syringes are seen with 'Monkeypox' sign displayed on a screen in the backgound in this illu...
Associated Press

Monkeypox declared a global emergency by UN health agency

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency.
27 days ago
Chinese paramilitary policemen march in front of the Japanese embassy where the Japanese flag is fl...
Associated Press

Japan’s ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech

TOKYO (AP) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s […]
1 month ago
Firefighters hose down a burning car after a strike hit a residential area, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk ...
Associated Press

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, analysts say

Analysts say Russia may be taking an "operational pause" in eastern Ukraine to reassemble forces for a significant offensive.
1 month ago
Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street, after reading a statement in London, Thursda...
Associated Press

One scandal too many: British PM Boris Johnson resigns

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday after droves of top government officials quit over the latest scandal to engulf him, marking an end to three tumultuous years in which he tried to bluster his way through one ethical lapse after another. Months of defiance ended almost with a shrug as […]
1 month ago
Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Somalia progress: US official visits Mogadishu