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