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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs