News / Africa

UN Envoy Has High Hopes for Somalia

Augustine Mahiga, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia. (January 24, 2012 file photo)Augustine Mahiga, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia. (January 24, 2012 file photo)
x
Augustine Mahiga, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia. (January 24, 2012 file photo)
Augustine Mahiga, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia. (January 24, 2012 file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
The U.N. special representative for Somalia says the backbone of the al-Shabab’s militant group has been broken. However, Augustine Mahiga says isolated terrorist attacks in the country may continue for a time.

Speaking on VOA’s Press Conference USA, Ambassador Mahiga says the terrorist acts should not detract from the accomplishments of the AU, Kenyan and Somali forces.



“These isolated incidents of terrorist acts should be seen in the broader context of huge successes in the field in central and southern Somalia by AMISOM and Somali troops," he said. "The last bastion of al-Shabab, which is Kismayo, should fall any time."


However, he says the fall of the port city does not spell the end for al-Shabab.

“It may retreat in the rural areas and melt into the population. But the backbone of al-Shabab military strength has been broken. But we should continue to expect terrorist acts behind the lines and in populated areas. And these may be the kicks of a dying horse, but we shouldn’t underestimate them,” he said.

He added, however, there have been large numbers of defections from al-Shabab and that many foreign fighters have left the country.

Mahiga says Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is ready to take on the challenges of rebuilding his country.

“The new president is somebody who has never left the country throughout the 22 years of crisis and civil strife. But while in the country he was actively engaged in civil society, particularly in the area of education, and has great and very close knowledge of the challenges and needs of the people of Somalia. That is what actually gave him the credibility to be elected,” he said.

The U.N. representative says the president’s popular support will help him deal with challenges from political rivals.

“He will have to do a lot of reconciling and balancing act. That is the nature of politics in Somalia between clans and regions. And there are certainly those representing the previous establishment that will try to recreate or regain or recover their lost prestige. But such efforts without a popular base won’t get very far,” he said.

President Mahamud has also promised to fight corruption and have a transparent government.

Ambassador Mahiga says the international community is heavily involved in supporting the new Somali government. But he says some security gaps still need to be closed.

He added that the Somali Diaspora has helped the country during its long years of conflict.

“The Diaspora is also capable of future investment in the country. Already $1.6 billion from the Diaspora has kept households in Somalia alive and resilient over the past 20 years. And with peace coming, we should expect more resources, and the Diaspora should be encouraged,” he said.

The U.N. special representative says he’s very optimistic about prospects for Somalia. He describes the political strategy for the country as being legitimate, representative and democratic.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid