U.S. Of­fi­cial Vis­its So­ma­lia To Show Sup­port for Lead­ers

The Washington Post Sunday - - World News - By Stephanie McCrummen

NAIROBI, April 7 — As­sis­tant U.S. Sec­re­tary of State for African Af­fairs Jen­dayi Frazer made an unan­nounced visit to So­ma­lia on Satur­day in a show of U.S. sup­port for an in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment that came to power through Ethiopian mil­i­tary might in De­cem­ber.

Frazer met with So­mali Pres­i­dent Ab­dul­lahi Yusuf, Prime Min­is­ter Ali Mohamed Gedi, clan el­ders and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers un­der tight se­cu­rity in the mar­ket town of Baidoa. She urged the lead­ers to work to­ward na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, a process that has been go­ing badly in the So­mali cap­i­tal of Mo­gadishu.

The visit fol­lows a week of in­tense fight­ing there be­tween Ethiopi­anbacked gov­ern­ment forces and in­sur­gents that in­clude dis­af­fected clan mili­tia mem­bers and the rem­nants of the pop­u­lar Is­lamic move­ment that was routed by Ethiopian forces in De­cem­ber, with U.S. sup­port. More than 300 peo­ple were killed in the re­cent fight­ing, which in­cluded mor­tar at­tacks by in­sur­gents, and an ae­rial as­sault by Ethiopian at­tack he­li­copters on civil­ian neigh­bor­hoods where in­sur­gents were thought to be hid­ing.

De­spite re­cent news re­ports that both Ethiopia and So­ma­lia could be in­ves­ti­gated for war crimes vi­o­la­tions for in­dis­crim­i­nately at­tack­ing civil­ians, Frazer had lit­tle crit­i­cism for ei­ther gov­ern­ment.

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