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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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