Somalia’s embattled interim government on Thursday received a pledge of unflinching support from Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, who promised it more military aid as it confronts an onslaught from Islamist insurgents.
Speaking after a meeting with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the Somali president, Mrs Clinton said she had conveyed to him “the very strong support that both President [Barack] Obama and I have both for the peace process and for his government”.
“We believe that his government is the best hope we’ve had in quite some time for a return to stability and the possibility of progress in Somalia,” she said.
The two met in Nairobi, Kenya, on the first leg of Mrs Clinton’s seven-country Africa trip.
The transitional federal government has western support but little authority in Somalia itself. Western countries have been scrambling to prop up the government since armed Islamist extremists, who the US says are linked to al-Qaeda, stepped up their efforts to overthrow it in May.
The US has confirmed it has sent 40 tonnes of arms and munitions to Somalia in the past few months and Mrs Clinton said Washington would “continue to provide equipment and training to the TFG as well as humanitarian assistance to the Somali people”.
“The TFG’s institutions, including the security sector, need not only reform but significant financial support so the government can make real progress in delivering services for the Somalia people,” she said.
Referring to the most powerful group of Islamists, Mrs Clinton said: “There is no doubt that al-Shabaab wants to obtain control over Somalia to use it as a base from which to influence and even infiltrate surrounding countries and launch attacks against countries far and near.”
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