By Nep Journal Correspondent:
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia today held lengthy discussions with visiting UK foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Mogadishu.
The visit of UK’s top diplomat which came a day after a huge blast rocked the city targeting one of the biggest hotels focused hugely on cooperation between the two governments in the areas of development and security.
Top on the list of discussions were security matters such as the war on terror and re-establishment and integration of the Somali national forces as well as the upcoming national elections.
The British envoy sent his condolences to the people and government of Somalia following the deadly June 1 attack on Ambassador Hotel in which more than ten people were killed including two lawmakers who hold dual Somali – British citizenship.
The UK is the only EU country to maintain an Embassy in Somalia and has taken a lead in coordinating international support for the fledgling Somali government. The UK is also providing around £200m of support toward a secure Somalia, including delivery of security sector reform augmented by the deployment of up to 70 extra UK military personnel to the UN’s Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), which provides crucial support to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).
Following meetings with the Somali President and Prime Minister in Mogadishu, the Foreign Secretary said:
“A secure and stable Somalia is the UK’s top priority in East Africa and is in our own national security interests. Britain is providing security support to Somalia and to the African Union to tackle Al Shabaab, a terrorist organisation that cannot be allowed to take hold”
“This week’s Al Shabaab attack is yet another reminder of the importance of the work we are doing to support Somalia and to increase security across the region.” He added.
Britain is increasing its support to the UN peace operations, with around 70 British military personnel deploying to Somalia.
President Hassan Sheikh in his updates assured the visiting Secretary of his government’s commitment towards holding free and fair elections later in the year.
The Secretary was pleased with the progress Somalia has made so far.
“I was encouraged to hear from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on the progress that has been made towards a more inclusive electoral process for August 2016. This will be a key step towards one-person, one-vote elections in 2020 and agreement of an overall Federal settlement, which is also crucial to Somalia’s future stability.” he said.
Mr. Hammon pledged the UK’s continued support towards the reconstruction efforts of Somalia especially in the areas of security, infrastructure and good governance.
The Foreign Secretary arrived in Mogadishu having spent the previous day in Addis Ababa where he held discussions with the Ethiopian government and the African Union.
He is expected to conclude his East African tour in Nairobi on 3 June.
Turkish President Tayyep Erdoga is also expected in Mogadishu on Friday to officially open his country’s embassy in Mogadishu. He also set to hold talks with the Federal government.