Somalia's U.S. ambassador is speaking well of the East African nation's new president.
Ambassador Larry Andre said "I'm impressed that this is an experienced statesman who has a vision and knows how to lead a team, and is motivated to achieve a better future for all of Somalia."
He said he spoke with the President about the structure of the Somali government, and says President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gives a “lot of respect to the states and sees the value of working at both a federal and state levels.”
André said the May 23 peaceful transfer of power from former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to Mohamud was a “positive example” for the Horn of Africa region.
“In my discussions with the president he was clear that just as he wants to rule through consensus, just as he wants to ensure the most productive relations possible between the federal government and the member states, he also wants to have the most productive relations possible with the neighbors, and the international partners,” André said
The positive review of President Mohamud comes after relations between the former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and some of the federal members - in particular Puntland and Jubaland regions - were strained for much of his presidency, when disputes over federalism, elections, and the national security architecture hampered holding timely elections and fighting against Al-Shebab.
Andre said “I asked first for the president's priorities before I spoke of ours, and several of the things that were on my list I heard from the president before I had a chance to even mention them."
“One specific example for the president to name a focal point, a leader for the effort to address the terrible humanitarian crisis," the ambassador said, adding "I was going to ask him to do that. He told me of his intent to do that before I even raised it. And now that individual has been named, we're seeing action - and we're seeing action especially in areas like this terrible humanitarian crisis where action is needed on an urgent basis.”
Asked if there will be uptick in number of airstrikes against Al-Shabab, André would only say, “We are discussing all avenues of supporting both African Union forces and Somali forces as they seek to stop the momentum of al-Shebab and reverse that momentum.”
While U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced that up to 500 "special operation" troops would go to Somalia, André insisted that it is the Somalis who should lead the fight against Al-Shabab, free their country and protect their people.
“Foreign friends, international security partners can help but the war will not be won by international forces,” he said. “The war will be won, the country will be liberated, the people will be defended, protected, the country will be made safe and secure by its own soldiers, by its own security forces, its own police.”
The ambassador said U.S. forces will not be the main forces fighting Al-Shabab, saying, “That is not what we are here to do.”