High-Level US Envoy Visits Somalia
by Gabe Joselow June 10, 2012
NAIROBI - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson has visited Mogadishu to press Somali officials to meet the deadline for ending the political transition. Carson emphasized the United States is ready to sanction individuals who try to derail the process.
Following his one-day trip to the Somali capital, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told reporters in Nairobi he is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Mogadishu in nearly 20 years.
Carson said he met with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohammed Ali during his visit, as well as representatives from the United Nations and senior diplomats.
He said he urged members of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government to do everything in their power to establish a more permanent government by the August 20 deadline established in an internationally-agreed plan known as the roadmap. “It is extremely important to the people of Somalia that this roadmap be completed on time and as fully as possible," he said.
Somalia has little more than two months left to fulfill key requirement of the roadmap, including approving a new constitution and electing a president.
Carson said the United Sates is prepared to get tough with any “spoilers” who seek to undermine the process, including members of government. “We will take action against those who attempt to impede the march toward greater stability and those who impede the effort to put in place a new constitution. Other states have also indicated that they are prepared to act against spoilers as well," he said.
Possible actions, Carson said, include visa sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes.
Carson also said the United States will continue to support the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM in its efforts to defeat what he called the “al-Shabab menace.” Since 2007, the United States has obligated nearly $340 million to AMISOM troop-contributing countries.
The United States has also offered $33 million for information on the whereabouts of seven al-Shabab militant group leaders.
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