Somalia Now 'A Place Of Hope, Not Of Despair,' Says Visiting Top US Official

U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, during her meeting with leaders of Somalia, stressed her conviction that Somalia is now "a place of hope, not of despair."

In Somali capital Mogadishu On Sunday, she met with President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud, Parliament Speaker Mohammed Osman Jawari, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander Lt-Gen. Andrew Gutti, the U.N. Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, and leaders of the country's civil society and business community.

Sherman is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia in more than 20 years, and her visit underscored the U.S. government's commitment to Somalia's stabilization efforts, the State Department said in a statement.

She welcomed the formation of a new Cabinet by Prime Minister Abdi Farah, and noted that the United States is pleased to see that the new Cabinet includes two women, which is a positive reflection of the important role women play in all aspects of Somali life. Parliamentarians will soon meet to consider the new Cabinet.

Sherman congratulated the Somali President and Parliament Speaker on the important political progress made in Somalia, including the August 20 formation of Parliament and September 10 election of President Hassan Sheikh. The Under-Secretary affirmed the centrality of the Somali government and people in guiding international support to the country.

The U.S. diplomat urged the Somali leadership to continue to consolidate gains by helping local governance structures emerge through community dialogue and reconciliation, rapidly providing services, drafting legislation to facilitate implementation of the Provisional Constitution adopted in August, and addressing al-Shabaab defectors and the charcoal stockpile in the port city of Kismayo.

Sherman congratulated AMISOM Force Commander Gutti for AMISOM's recent success in driving al-Shabaab out of strategically important population centers and acknowledged the courage and professionalism of the AMISOM forces in achieving these gains. She underscored the continued U.S. commitment to support AMISOM and the Somali National forces in their critically important responsibility of extending security throughout Somalia.

Sherman praised the Somali business community for its efforts to sustain the country's economy during its 20 years of civil conflict and civil society for its provision of services to the Somali people in the lack of a functioning government.

The Under-Secretary encouraged Somalia's civil society and business community to continue giving robust voice to their constituencies in engaging the emerging governmental institutions and holding them accountable as the new government establishes itself and its priorities.

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