US President Barack Obama has finally nominated a US ambassador to Somalia in nearly 25 years, filling a post that has been vacant since the country plunged into chaos in 1991.
According to AFP, Obama on Tuesday nominated Foreign Service veteran Katherine Simonds Dhanani, who would work from neighboring Kenya until security conditions permit the embassy in the Somali capital of Mogadishu to reopen.
Dhanani, currently director of regional and security affairs in the department’s Africa bureau, has previously served in India, Mexico and Guyana, and has significant African experience, having been posted in Zimbabwe, Gabon, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.
In the words of State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, “this historic nomination signals the deepening relationship between the United States and Somalia. It also allows us to mark the progress of the Somali people toward emerging from decades of conflict. Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation”.
Somalia has been ravaged by conflict and instability since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre 24 years ago, despite the formation of successive governments that have been plagued by civil strife, piracy and political uncertainty.