Obama nominates first Somalia ambassador in 24 years

Published February 25th, 2015 - 01:32 GMT

US President Barack Obama nominated Tuesday the first United States ambassador to Somalia since 1991.

If confirmed by the Senate, the ambassador, Katherine S. Dhanani, will lead the US mission to Somalia, currently based at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

"This historic nomination signals the deepening relationship between the United States and Somalia," said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. 

"As security conditions permit, we look forward to increasing our diplomatic presence in Somalia and eventually reopening the US Embassy in Mogadishu," she said.

According to the State Department, the United States established diplomatic relations with Somalia in 1960, but closed the embassy in Mogadishu in 1991, after the civil war in the 1980s led to the collapse of Somalia's central government.

With an estimated population of more than 10 million, Somalia for decades has remained a war-torn country.

The African Union says that the Transitional Federal Government of the Republic of Somalia, established in 2004 and internationally recognized, is the most recent attempt to restore national institutions to Somalia.

Several factions, including the militant al-Shabaab group, continue to wage an insurgency in the country.

An African Union peacekeeping force continues to serve in the country and acts as the protector of the Transitional Federal Government.


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