Today, Secretary Kerry traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia to reinforce the United States' commitment to supporting Somalia’s ongoing transition to a peaceful democracy. This is the first ever visit by a U.S. Secretary of State to Somalia. "My brief visit confirms what diplomats have been telling me: The people here are both resilient and determined to reclaim their future from the terrorists and the militias who’ve been attempting to steal it. Over the past quarter century, Somalis have known immense suffering from violence, from criminals, from sectarian strife, from dire shortages of food, and from an inability to remain safely within their villages and their homes."
Three years have passed since a new provisional constitution was adopted and a parliament was sworn in. With help from AMISOM, the United Nations has contributed significantly to this progress. Somali forces have pushed al-Shabaab out of major population centers. A determined international effort has put virtually all of Somalia’s pirates out of business. New life has returned to the streets of Mogadishu, and fresh hope to the people of all the country.
In his meetings with federal and regional government officials, the Secretary discussed security cooperation and Somalia’s progress towards meeting its reform and development benchmarks in view of its 2016 elections. After meeting with Somali leadership, Secretary Kerry said, "The president, the prime minister, and the regional leaders affirmed to me today that they are committed to making progress on these issues and ensuring that there is a broad consensus on exactly how the constitutional review and the elections are going to proceed. And in addition, he also committed to me today that the mandate will not be extended beyond 2016, that the government will keep the schedule of Vision 2016 and avoid delays, that they will appoint the members of the national independent electoral commission and the boundaries and federation commission by next week."
Secretary Kerry affirmed, "We all have a stake in what happens here in Somalia. The world cannot afford to have places on the map that are essentially ungoverned. We learned in 2001 what happens when that is the case, and we have seen on a continued basis with splinter groups how they are determined to try to do injury to innocent people and to whole nations by operating out of ungoverned spaces. And so Somalia’s return to effective government is an historic opportunity for everybody to push back against extremism and to empower people in a whole country to be able to live the promise of their nation."
In recognition of Somalia's progressand the promise to come, Secretary Kerry announced that the United States will begin the process of establishing the premises for a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu. "I look forward, as does the President, to the day when both the United States and Somalia have full-fledged missions in each other’s capital city again. And I look forward as well to the time when we can say, and all the world will be able to see and to measure, that this country is fully united, combining regional strengths with national purpose, able to welcome its refugees home, and secure in a new Somalia that occupies an honored place on the regional and global stage for generations to come."
Secretary Kerry concluded that only the Somalian people can accomplish that vision, but the United States, together with international partners, is prepared to do what we can to help bring Somalia the peace and prosperity and security and the future that the people of Somalia want and that they deserve.
Learn more about Secretary Kerry’s visit to Somalia and his next stops in Djibouti, Riyadh and Paris. You can also view photos and other notes from Secretary Kerry while he is traveling by following @JohnKerry on Twitter.