News / Africa

US Envoy Sees Progress in Somalia; Challenges Remain

A Ugandan soldier serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) stands at the back of an armored fighting vehicle near the front line in the Yaaqshiid District of northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (file photo)
A Ugandan soldier serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) stands at the back of an armored fighting vehicle near the front line in the Yaaqshiid District of northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (file photo)

The U.S. special envoy for Somalia says the United States is pleased with recent progress in the country, citing security gains against al-Shabab and movement on a 'roadmap' to phase out the country's transitional government.  

In a conversation with VOA, U.S. Ambassador James Swan said there has been “very significant” progress in Somalia over the past year.

He noted the recent successes the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union forces (AMISOM) have had against the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

“I think we've really seen a change in the narrative with al-Shabab increasingly on the defensive, TFG and AMISOM increasingly taking the initiative and moving forward,” said Swan.

Kenyan soldiers talk as they prepare to advance near Liboi in Somalia (File)
Kenyan soldiers talk as they prepare to advance near Liboi in Somalia (File)

A military operation initiated by Kenya in Somalia's south-central region has added to pressure on the militant group.

While the United States is not directly involved in the military operations, Ambassador Swan noted the U.S. does provide support to the AU and TFG forces through a security assistance program.

Meantime, Somalia is trying to implement a political roadmap, agreed to in August, for ending the transitional federal government and drafting a new constitution.

Somali leaders recently agreed to some principles of the transition at a conference in Garowe in the autonomous Puntland region.  However, enormous challenges remain.

Ambassador Swan expressed concern about an ongoing dispute among Somali lawmakers over a motion to oust the parliamentary speaker.  

“The dispute in parliament risks becoming at best a distraction and at worst a setback for roadmap implementation, so we are very eager to see this rapidly overcome so that all of the Somali institutions can keep their focus on implementing the roadmap and bringing the transition to an end in August of this year,” Swan added.

Somali members of parliament have brawled on at least four separate occasions following a move to oust speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan. Several MP's were hospitalized after the most recent fistfight.

Among their grievances, his opponents complain that Adan has refused to hold debates on the roadmap.

Another issue complicating Somalia's future is the role of regional authorities that have sprung up across the country in the absence of a strong central government.

Somalis say the United States caused some confusion by advocating a “dual-track” program that supports a strong central government in the first track and honors smaller regional authorities in the second.

The program sounded to some like it was promising to recognize any and all of these local administrations.

Swan said the policy is more discriminating than that.

“But it is clear that while we are happy to have conversations and discussions with any of these new administrations that are announced or proposed, that our direct assistance and our more active support will be contingent on demonstrations that these administrations are functional on the ground and have genuine representation of their populations,” Swan said.

Somalia has not had a stable central government in 20 years, since warlords overthrew President Mohamed Siad Barre.

Since it was established in 2006, the TFG has missed all of its previous deadlines for holding national elections and completing a constitution, and many analysts are doubtful this year will be any different.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More